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Name: People v. Castillo
Case #: B303413
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 8
Opinion Date: 05/12/2021
Subsequent History: Ordered published 6/1/21

Petitioner did not meet burden of proof in showing prejudice under Penal Code section 1473.7 where facts indicated petitioner prioritized potential sentencing exposure over potential immigration consequences at the time of his plea. In 1989, Castillo pleaded guilty to possession for sale of a controlled substance. The prosecutor warned him the plea could result in deportation if he was not a U.S. citizen. Castillo did not ask any questions after the advisement, even though he had interrupted court proceedings to ask other questions and confer with counsel. In 2019, Castillo filed a motion to vacate his conviction under section 1473.7. At his hearing, Castillo testified that he had not been advised of the immigration consequences in this case or his multiple other criminal cases by his attorneys, but admitted the courts had notified him. Castillo also admitted to using different names with different birth dates because he knew he was in danger of deportation. The trial court denied Castillo’s motion and he appealed. Held: Affirmed. Section 1473.7 authorizes a person who is no longer in custody to move to vacate a conviction when there was prejudicial error damaging the defendant’s ability to meaningfully understand the actual or potential adverse immigration consequences of a plea. Here, the Court of Appeal concluded Castillo’s claim failed because he did not show prejudice. Castillo’s motion was based primarily on his declaration and testimony, which the trial court did not find credible. Reviewing the factors set forth in Lee v. U.S. (2017) 137 S.Ct. 1958 and People v. Martinez (2013) 57 Cal.4th 555, did not convince the court that Castillo would have opted for trial had he been properly advised of the immigration consequences. There was a significant disparity between the sentence he received on his plea and the sentence he faced if he had been convicted at trial. Also, Castillo may have agreed to a quick plea rather than risk discovery of the full extent of his prior convictions under several different names. There was substantial evidence that Castillo’s priority at the time of the plea was not to avoid immigration consequences. [Editor’s Note: The court rejected Castillo’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim under Padilla v. Kentucky (2010) 559 U.S. 356 because Castillo pleaded guilty 21 years before Padilla issued. (See Chaidez v. United States (2013) 568 U.S. 342.) Trial counsel had no affirmative duty in 1989 to research and advise Castillo of the actual immigration consequences of his plea. (Cf. People v. Soriano (1987) 194 Cal.App.3d 1470.)]