The California Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate District, has held that to succeed on a motion to vacate under Penal Code 1473.7, a person need only show by a preponderance of the evidence: 1) he did not ‘meaningfully understand’ or ‘knowingly accept’ the actual or potential adverse immigration consequences of the plea; and 2) had he understood the consequences, it is reasonably probable he would have instead attempted to ‘defend against’ the charges.” “We agree with the Camacho court’s analysis that the focus of the inquiry in a section 1473.7 motion is on the ‘defendant’s own error in . . . not knowing that his plea would subject him to mandatory deportation and permanent exclusion from the United States.’”

“We also agree with the Camacho court as to the prejudice component of the amended statute. That is, a ‘prejudicial error’ occurs under section 1473.7 when there is a reasonable probability that the person would not have pleaded guilty—and would have risked going to trial (even if only to figuratively throw a ‘Hail Mary’)—had the person known that the guilty plea would result in mandatory and dire immigration consequences.”

“Mejia said that he would have never pleaded guilty had he known and understood ‘that this would harm me in the future.’” “In short, Mejia plainly established his own ‘error’ within the meaning of section 1473.7, subdivision (a).” “As far as the prejudice component, there is contemporaneous evidence in the record to substantiate Mejia’s claim that he would not have pleaded guilty had he known about the mandatory and dire immigration ramifications. Similar to Camacho, there is compelling evidence in the record that at the time of his guilty pleas, Mejia had been living in the United States for eight years, since he was 14 years old. At the time of his guilty pleas, Mejia’s wife and infant son were living in the United States, as well as his mother and six siblings. Indeed, Mejia’s only remaining family tie to Mexico was his father, who passed away just before Mejia entered his guilty pleas. Moreover, as the lower court acknowledged, there are some lingering questions about the strength of the underlying evidence.”

The full text of People v. Mejia can be found here: