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Motion to Vacate a Judgment in Orange County

Understanding California Penal Code 1018 for Your Defense

Being convicted of a crime in Orange County can be absolutely devastating for you, as you may face significant fines, jail time, and other punishments. What can make your situation more difficult to bear is discovering that your case was mishandled by an unqualified attorney, that you were coerced into pleading guilty to a crime you did not commit, or you were not fully informed of the consequences of pleading guilty. In any of these situations, you may be to file a motion to vacate a judgment under California Penal Code 1018 in order to have your conviction overturned.

The California criminal justice system must follow strict guidelines when charging and convicting defendants – otherwise, innocent defendants can face horrible abuses of justice. If you or a loved one was convicted of a crime in any of the above scenarios, then you should contact an OC defense lawyer at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti as soon as possible. Our legal team can review your case and determine if you are eligible to have your conviction overturned. To learn how, call Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999.

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What Is PC 1018?

When defendants are charged with a crime, they are offered the opportunity to plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest to the charges against them. However, the court requires that every defendant be fully aware of the consequences of a guilty or no contest plea, including the various penalties of a conviction. This allows defendants to make informed decisions before entering a plea.

Under California Penal Code 1018, if a defendant was not fully informed of the consequences of a guilty or no contest plea, then they could file a motion to vacate a judgment. If the motion was successful, the court would overrule the conviction and allow the defendant to plead not guilty, giving them the opportunity for a new trial. A motion to vacate effectively grants you the opportunity to withdraw your plea.

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When Can You File a Motion to Vacate a Judgment?

In order to file a motion to vacate a judgment and withdraw your plea, you must fulfill what the court considers a “good cause” and file the motion before you are sentenced or within six months of being placed on probation. Good cause includes scenarios where you entered a plea due to “incompetence, mistake, ignorance, inadvertence, or some other factor that demonstrates overreaching.” In our experience, defendants have good cause when:

  • A defendant submitted a plea when they were not represented by an attorney;
  • A defendant was not aware of the full consequences of submitting a plea, such as not being informed of the penalties of a conviction like deportation or the option to pursue a diversion program;
  • A defendant’s lawyer did not properly investigate the case, explain the charges against the defendant, or explain the consequences of a plea; or
  • A defendant was coerced into pleading guilty against their best interests.

If your case was mishandled and you pled guilty to charges you did not fully understand, you deserve another chance at a fair and transparent trial and should contact Law Office of Michael L. Guisti to discuss your case.

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What Does PC 1016.5 Do for Non-Citizens in Orange County?

Any criminal conviction can lead to serious consequences for any California resident. For non-citizens living in California, a criminal conviction brings the possibility of deportation. Unfortunately, many non-citizens in this situation wind up getting deported because they don't know that a run-in with the law can lead to a deportation. To make things fairer, the State of California enacted Penal Code 1016.5, a law that requires the court to inform defendants that a criminal conviction can lead to deportation.

A conviction for some crimes can lead to non-citizens being deported, which include:

  • "Moral turpitude" crimes (white-collar crimes, fraud is the most common charge)
  • Aggravated felonies (murder, rape, grand theft, sexual abuse of a minor)
  • Drug crimes (possession, sale, or transport of drugs)
  • Gun crimes (buying or selling guns illegally)
  • Domestic violence (inflicting corporal injury on a partner)

Here is what the court has to read to the accused person:

  • "If you are not a citizen, you are hereby advised that conviction of the offense for which you have been charged may have the consequences of deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of naturalization pursuant to the laws of the United States."

For non-citizens facing a criminal charge, PC 1016.5 gives them the right to ask for extra time to reconsider a plea to their charges after being told the deportation possibility of a conviction. The law also allows non-citizens to ask for a judgment to be vacated or a guilty plea withdrawn if:

  • The court didn't tell them about the immigration consequences of a conviction;
  • They appeal to the court that a conviction that leads to deportation, being not allowed to return to the U.S., or denied naturalization is unfair and not in their best interest.

If the court doesn't have a record of someone being advised of deportation consequences of a guilty or no contest plea, a strong defense attorney will be able to show that you weren't advised of your rights under PC 1016.5. This could help you stay in the country.

To get your motion to vacate a judgment granted, you'll need to prove:

  • The court didn't tell you about the immigration consequences you faced for pleading guilty or no contest to a criminal charge;
  • A criminal conviction could lead to your deportation, not being allowed to return to the U.S., or denied naturalization; and
  • You were prejudiced by the non-advisement.

The last example is the most complex. To show that you were prejudiced by not being advised of your immigration status being changed due to a guilty plea, you'll need to prove that you would've entered a different plea had you known the immigration consequences of your situation.

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Contact an Experienced OC Criminal Attorney

Remember, filing a motion to vacate a judgment or withdraw your please doesn't mean that a conviction of your charges will just go away. The court has the legal power to decide whether to grant or deny your motion to vacate a judgment. But doing may mean that you receive a proper trial with an experienced attorney, and you should not hesitate to reach out to one to discuss your case.

Anyone who has been coerced or misled into pleading guilty to a crime deserves the opportunity to have their case thoroughly reviewed. Do not let yourself go to prison without investigating every option under the law. Law Office of Michael L. Guisti has helped multiple clients receive fair trials, including non-citizens facing deportation. Let us help you. Contact us today at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999 to schedule a free consultation to review your case.

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Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.

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Case Results

sex crimes

Case Dropped

Young man charged and arrested for sexual battery.


Case Dropped

Man charged with assault with a deadly weapon for hitting someone in the face with a heavy metal dust pan.

drug crimes

Served Less Than 30 Days in Jail

Young man charged with selling 1000 tabs of ecstasy to undercover officer.

Attempted Murder

Reduced to Assault With Deadly Weapon

Young man knocks the eye out his victim with a metal pipe. Charged with attempted murder and aggravated mayhem. Both cases carried life sentences.

Assault & Battery

Serves 80 Days on Work Furlough

Woman arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon using scissors on a co-worker.

Vehicular Assault

Serves 80 Days on Work Furlough

Man charged with three felony counts of vehicular assault with a deadly weapon.


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