Client facing Deportation is Granted Post Conviction Relief in NJ

Client Granted PCR and is Now Safe From Deportation

Keith Oliver Criminal Law is happy to announce that one of our clients was granted Post Conviction Relief (PCR) this week on a decade old conviction and is now set to be have his mandatory deportation proceedings dismissed. Our client, who had been in this country for just under two decades, was in the midst of a nightmare based on a criminal case that was just under a decade old when he contacted our office. The nightmare stems from an incident back in 2009. Our client, who at the time of the incident had just turned eighteen (18), was arrested and charged with various indictable (felony) offenses, including numerous counts of burglary, in violation of NJSA 2C:18-2 as well as theft of movable property, in violation of NJSA 2C:20-3a. As a result of the charges, our client, who is not a United States citizen, applied for entry into the pretrial intervention program (PTI). He was ultimately accepted into the PTI program, upon the condition that he enter a plea of guilty to one count of theft of movable property prior to entering into the program.

Upon the advice of his attorney, our client accepted the State’s offer and plead guilty to one count of theft and was enrolled into the PTI program for a term of three years. He successfully completed the program and as a result, the guilty plea was vacated and the charges were dismissed. However, unfortunately for our client, since he was not a United State’s Citizen, his admission of guilt to the theft charge placed him directly in the crosshairs of a deportation proceeding. For immigration purposes, the fact that he successfully completed the PTI program is irrelevant, the admission of guilt, let alone the fact that it was to a crime of moral turpitude, was enough to initiate deportation proceedings and that is exactly what happened. Upon his successful completion of the PTI program, he was served with deportation papers.

Upon meeting with our client it was immediately apparent that his previous attorney had made a catastrophic mistake when he informed our client that so long as he completed the PTI program, without violating any of the terms, he wouldn’t have any immigration consequences. This information could not be any further from the truth. Upon further investigation, it became even more apparent that our client had suffered a serious miss-justice. The transcripts from the plea collogue further revealed that the Judge who took the plea also misadvised our client as to the ramifications the resolution would have on his immigration status.

Facing Deportation Proceedings in NJ?

Geared with the information provided by our client as well as the information that was revealed during the transcripts, our office filed a motion for Post Conviction Relief, also known as a PCR. One of the main arguments our office made was that our client was denied the effective assistance of counsel as required by the constitution. In order to prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, our client had to satisfy the two-prong test set forth in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984); reiterated in State v. Fritz, 105 N.J. 42 (1987).  Under the Strickland test, we had to show that (1) “counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness,” and (2) there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.  This could not be anymore on point, our client was clearly misadvised as to the effects his guilty plea would have on his immigration status. Furthermore, our client, who at that point had been in the Country for more than a decade, clearly would not have accepted this plea deal had he known he would be subject to deportation.  Since our client was misadvised, as opposed to simply not being advised about the immigration consequences of his plea, we were able to satisfy the most recent state of the law when it comes to ineffective assistance of counsel claims and immigration consequences. 

What are the Benefits of a PCR for Immigration Purposes?

The PCR motion was ultimately granted by the Judge and the guilty plea was vacated. Now, this was only half of the battle, as by vacating the plea does not resolve the case, it simply reopens the case and puts it back on the trial docket. Upon further plea discussions, which included potential trial proof issues, the State conceded to dismissing the charges outright, with prejudice. In other words, the charges were dismissed and since they were done with prejudice, the charges can never be reopened. Our client is now able to present this dismissal order to the Federal immigration judge who is presiding over his removal proceedings and have those proceedings dismissed as well. It has been an extremely long, tough, stressful nine years for our client. Not only has he been in the United States for the vast majority of his life, his entire family resides here as well. Had the PCR motion not been granted, he would have been deported next month.

Post Conviction Relief Attorneys in New Jersey

Keith Oliver Criminal Law is a criminal defense firm, comprised of attorneys who have dedicated their entire careers to defending those accused of serious crimes like burglary, robbery, carjacking, aggravated assault as well as post conviction relief motions for those facing deportation proceedings. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or is facing removal proceedings and would like to speak to one of our attorneys today about your options, then please call our office at 732.858.6959. Our initial consultations are free of costs, so if you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us.

State v. D.P. (2018)