On January 1, 2017, California Penal Code section 1473.7 went into effect. This is good news for non-citizens who wish to vacate old convictions, but who are no longer in custody or on probation.
There are two main grounds under which to file a motion under PC 1473.7: (1) a prejudicial error damaging the defendant’s ability to meaningfully understand, defend against, or knowingly accept the actual or potential adverse immigration consequences of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or (2) newly discovered evidence of actual innocence. This law was designed to help non-citizens who were provided ineffective assistance of counsel regarding the immigration consequences of their guilty pleas.
Before the enactment of PC 1473.7, if a noncitizen was no longer serving a sentence or on probation, they were not able to vacate a guilty plea based on the above-mentioned grounds for filing this motion. Now, non-citizens with even very old convictions can file this new motion to vacate a conviction with harsh immigration consequences.
Because this new law vacates a conviction based on a legal defect, the result is that the conviction is eliminated for all purposes, including immigration purposes.
The full text of the new law can be found here.