ACLU Applauds Gov. Brown for Signing Bill to Address Unjust Convictions and Prevent Unfair Deportations

AB 813 provides much-needed relief for the wrongly convicted and immigrants whose lawyers didn’t advise them of the immigration consequences of pleading guilty.

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Sacramento - Today, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 813 (Gonzalez), a measure that provides innocent individuals and noncitizens with the opportunity to challenge legally invalid convictions after they have served their time.

In response to the bill’s approval, Maya Ingram, Legislative Advocate with the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy, said:

Once again, California is bringing a ray of fairness to the immigration and criminal justice systems, which are plagued by injustices.

AB 813 offers a simple procedural change to state law, but its impact will be life-changing for innocent people and immigrants facing the threat of deportation due to old, invalid convictions. We thank Governor Brown for signing it.

Background on AB 813

Currently, only people who are serving their time or are on parole or probation can challenge their conviction and ask a court to review it. Once someone is released, they cannot challenge that conviction – even if there is newly discovered evidence to prove their innocence. This gap in the law has a particularly devastating effect on innocent individuals who are wrongly convicted and immigrants who plead guilty to a crime without being advised that this plea could result in their deportation.    

Although AB 813 does not guarantee the automatic reversal of the conviction, it does offer an opportunity to ask a judge to reconsider the validity of the conviction.

The new law will take effect Jan. 1, 2017. California joins 44 other states and the federal court system in providing immigrants a pathway to challenge legally invalid convictions.

AB 813 was co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of California, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, California Public Defender Association, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

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