August 25, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Defendant May Challenge Unrevoked Deferred Judgment, and Court Has Jurisdiction to Review District Court’s Denial

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Figueroa-Lemus on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

Crim. P. 32(d)—Withdrawal of Plea—Deferred Judgment —Immigration—Deportation—Ineffective Assistance of Counsel.

Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a schedule II controlled substance and driving under the influence (DUI). The parties stipulated to a two-year deferred judgment on the possession count and probation on the DUI count. The court accepted the deferred judgment and sentenced defendant to two years of probation. About five months later, defendant filed a Crim. P. 32(d) motion to withdraw his guilty plea to the possession count, arguing that his defense and immigration counsel were ineffective for failing to advise him of the clear immigration consequences of the plea. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court denied the motion.

The People filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, arguing that there was no jurisdiction to review the order denying the Crim. P. 32(d) motion. They contended that the order was not final and appealable because defendant’s motion challenged a deferred judgment (a non-final judgment) that had not been revoked when the court entered the order or when defendant filed the notice of appeal. Under Crim. P. 32(d), a defendant may challenge a guilty plea involving a deferred judgment that is still in effect. The court of appeals concluded it could review the district court’s order denying the Crim. P. 32(d) motion.

Defendant argued on appeal that his guilty plea was not made knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently because his counsel never informed him of the clear immigration consequences of the plea. The record supports the district court’s finding that defendant’s counsel advised him on multiple occasions that a guilty plea to a drug felony would result in deportation. The court also rejected defendant’s argument that counsel should have advised him that he would be held in custody during the removal proceeding, because counsel was not required to give this advice. Therefore, counsel’s performance was not deficient, and the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied the Crim. P. 32(d) motion.

The order was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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