Criminal Defense - Santa Rosa - People vs. Patterson

On March 27, 2017, the Supreme Court of California decided People vs. Patterson. This case is especially important to those practicing criminal defense in a place like Santa Rosa California, with its large immigrant population.

People v. Patterson instructs both on the duties of a criminal defense lawyer in Sonoma County and also the proper procedure for withdrawing a plea. At any time before judgment, or within six months after an order granting probation if entry of judgment is suspended, a trial court may permit a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea for “good cause shown.” (Penal Code § 1018.) “Mistake, ignorance or any other factor overcoming the exercise of free judgment is good cause for withdrawal of a guilty plea” under section 1018 (People v. Cruz (1974) 12 Cal.3d 562, 566 (Cruz)), and section 1018 states that its provisions “shall be liberally construed . . . to promote justice.” A defendant seeking to withdraw a guilty plea on grounds of mistake or ignorance must present clear and convincing evidence in support of the claim. (Cruz, at p. 566.) A trial court’s decision whether to permit a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea under section 1018 is reviewed for abuse of discretion. (In re Brown (1973) 9 Cal.3d 679, 685.) “[W]hen a trial court’s decision rests on an error of law, that decision is an abuse of discretion.” (People v. Superior Court (Humberto S.) (2008) 43 Cal.4th 737, 746.)

A defendant in the Sonoma County Superior Court may establish good cause to withdraw a guilty plea under section 1018 by showing that he or she was unaware that the plea would result in deportation.

In the Patterson case, the defendant wanted to withdraw his guilty plea on the ground that at the time of the plea he was unaware that the conviction would render him subject to removal from the United States. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq.), “[a]ny alien who at any time after admission has been convicted of a violation of . . . any law or regulation of a State, the United States or a foreign country relating to a controlled substance . . . , other than a single offense involving possession for one’s own use of 30 grams or less of marijuana, is deportable” (8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)(2)(B)(i)), and any such deportable alien “shall, upon the order of the Attorney General, be removed” (8 U.S.C. § 1227(a)).

The question before the Supreme Court was whether Patterson was barred from seeking section 1018 relief on grounds of mistake or ignorance because he received the standard advisement — given to all criminal defendants in California who plead guilty to any offense other than an infraction — that his or her criminal conviction “may” have adverse immigration consequences. (§ 1016.5.) The Court found that the 1016.5 advisement would not operate as such a bar.

The Court also reminded those practicing criminal defense in Sonoma County of Penal Code section 1016.3. This section requires that Sonoma County defense counsel “provide accurate and affirmative advice about the immigration consequences of a proposed disposition, and when consistent with the goals of and with the informed consent of the defendant, and consistent with professional standards, defend against those consequences”.

The criminal defense attorneys at Adams Fietz often hire immigration attorneys to help give this advice. If you have a criminal matter, please call the criminal defense attorneys at Adams Fietz for a free consultation.