Criminal convictions result in more than just jail time, fines, and probation. Even after serving a jail sentence, a criminal conviction can affect your future job prospects and even your immigration status. For many people, they don’t realize how much a criminal conviction may affect their life until after they have been convicted and sentenced. However, even after pleading guilty, or a court finding you guilty at trial, you still have the right to fight your conviction if you file for post-conviction relief.
Citizens and non-citizens alike deserve Constitutional protection under the law. For many non-citizens, a criminal conviction can lead to deportation or removal proceedings. Other criminal convictions can make individuals ineligible to apply lawful permanent status (“green card”). Unfortunately, many lawyers do not take the time to properly advise defendants of their rights before they recommend accepting a plea deal, even if the plea deal puts them at risk for deportation.
Deportable crimes include aggravated felonies, drug offenses, gun crimes, domestic violence, or “crimes of moral turpitude.” The term “crime of moral turpitude,” can be confusing as there is no clear definition of what offenses are included. It has been used to include things like prostitution, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, lewdness, tax evasion, or forgery.
In California, criminal defense lawyers are obligated to advise their non-citizen criminal defendants of the specific immigration consequences of conviction. Ineffective assistance of counsel by your criminal defense lawyer may constitute grounds for post-conviction relief and may even halt removal procedures. This is often known as a Padilla motion, based on a Supreme Court case that found that lawyers who do not provide adequate information on immigration consequences may provide a basis for immigrants to vacate their criminal conviction.
Job and Professional Consequences
A criminal conviction for certain crimes can also affect your job or professional licensure. Many people convicted of a crime find it difficult or even impossible to even get an interview after serving time behind bars. Job applications often require disclosure of a felony or criminal conviction, and in a tough job market, employers may simply move on to the applicant that does not have a conviction.
Crimes involving fraud, theft, embezzlement, perjury, or larceny may result in the loss of a professional license for a lawyer, accountant, or other professional. Many people dedicate their whole lives to their profession, and when a criminal conviction prevents pursuing their life’s work, they may be left with no means of gainful employment.
How to Seek Post-Conviction Relief
There may be a number of reasons to support a claim for post-conviction relief. It could be based on ineffective assistance of counsel, improper conduct by the court, judge, or prosecutor, or the development of new evidence. This can be the basis for having your conviction overturned, withdrawal of a guilty plea, or to have the criminal conviction reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Under Proposition 47, people convicted of certain felonies may be able to have those convictions changed to misdemeanors. This includes low-level drug possession crimes, and minor theft crimes (involving property valued under $950). However, for any other crimes, post-conviction relief is still possible through legal proceedings.
Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor is a common source of post-conviction relief in California. This is because many penal code offenses can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the situation, also known as a “wobbler.” Even if a charge is reduced to a misdemeanor, it may open up many doors that a felony would prevent. Felony convictions may limit your access to voting, serving on a jury, holding public office, or owning a firearm.
Filing for post-conviction relief after a trial ends is not a simple venture. Your California lawyer with experience successfully seeking post-conviction relief will be able to explain the process, all of your options, and the likelihood of success. The sooner you contact a post-conviction defense lawyer, the sooner they will be able to evaluate your case and get you on the way to clearing up your criminal conviction, so you can get back to the life you know.
Lawyers for Post-Conviction Relief
If you or a loved one were convicted of a crime in California, you may still challenge that conviction and fight to have your charges reduced or have your criminal record cleared. Filing for post-conviction relief may mean new job opportunities, a return to a normal life, and even prevent your family from being torn apart by immigration officials. A California lawyer with a successful record representing people convicted of criminal offenses will fight for you to get your charges reduced, or get your conviction overturned.