Clearing a California Criminal record for Immigration Purposes
President Donald Trump has recently promised to deport 2 to 3 million "criminal" immigrants currently living in this country. Many of these people have only a single conviction and there are several ways to attack prior criminal convictions.
Penal Code section 1473.3 (withdrawing plea after conviction)This law will allow a person to withdraw a plea where their defense attorney did not try to get them a deal which would allow them to legally stay in the country. This is a new code section, effective January 1, 2017, which will allow people to attack old convictions where they are no longer on probation or parole. This law allows people to attack old convictions where their attorney did not fully advise them of the immigration consequences or did not attempt to get a better deal which would prevent deportation. Many criminal defense attorneys are careless in the way the handle immigrant clients and there are probably many thousands of people who could have strong motions to have their convictions reversed under this new law.
Invalidating Conviction for Drug PossessionPeople who have successfully completed drug diversion under Penal Code section 1000 will still be considered convicted and deportable under federal immigration law. A new law provides that people who completed the PC1000 program can now apply to have their convictions "invalidated" under Penal Code section 1203.43. Invalidation is not automatic - you must make a motion in court. I have no doubt many people will be deported who would have been perfectly fine had they completed this relatively simple legal procedure.
Penal Code section 1203.4 (expungement)Commonly called "expungement", this code section allows a person to have their case dismissed after they have completed probation. The law is great at clearing a criminal record for background checks, but has limited value in the immigration realm - the Federal Government will still consider the case a conviction, but it may help in cases where the government has discretion on whether or not to allow the immigrant to remain in the country, depending on the facts of his or her circumstances.