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People v. Morones-Quinonez

Court of Appeals of Colorado, First Division

November 5, 2015

The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Luz del Carmen Morones-Quinonez, Defendant-Appellant

Page 808

City and County of Denver District Court No. 11CR164. Honorable Ann B. Frick, Judge.

Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Joseph G. Michaels, Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Hernandez & Associates, P.C., Arnulfo D. Hernández, Christine M. Hernández, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant.

Taubman and J. Jones, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 809

HARRIS, JUDGE.

[¶1] Luz del Carmen Morones-Quinonez appeals the district court's order summarily denying her Crim. P. 35(c) motion for postconviction relief based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Ms. Morones asserts that she sufficiently alleged that her lawyer misadvised her of the immigration consequences of her guilty plea to criminal impersonation and that, if she had been properly advised, she would have insisted on proceeding to trial. We reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing.

I. Background

[¶2] Ms. Morones was charged with one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument, § 18-5-105, C.R.S. 2015, and one count of criminal impersonation, § 18-5-113(1), (3), C.R.S. 2015, after police officers conducting a traffic stop discovered a false identification card in her possession. Ms. Morones hired a lawyer whose practice focused on immigration and criminal law to represent her in both her criminal case and the removal proceedings that had been initiated shortly after the criminal charges were filed.

[¶3] According to her motion, Ms. Morones was adamantly opposed to accepting any plea offer that would make her ineligible for relief from deportation. Her lawyer recommended that she plead guilty to criminal impersonation, assuring her that she would be " just fine" in immigration court, as criminal impersonation, unlike identity theft, was a " minor felony," and would not affect her immigration case.

[¶4] With those assurances, Ms. Morones pleaded guilty to criminal impersonation. She was later ordered deported by an immigration law judge. Through her lawyer, she requested cancellation of removal, but that request was denied based on her conviction.

[¶5] Ms. Morones then filed her Crim. P. 35(c) motion, alleging that her counsel had provided ineffective assistance by affirmatively misadvising her of the immigration consequences of her guilty plea. She further alleged that, had she been properly advised, she would have rejected the plea offer and proceeded to trial. The district court denied Ms. Morones's motion without a hearing, concluding that, as a matter of law, Ms. Morones could not establish prejudice from her counsel's allegedly deficient performance because, even if counsel had misadvised Ms. Morones, the written guilty plea advisement and the court's oral ...


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