California v. FryhaatAnnotate this Case
Defendant-appellant and Jordanian citizen Kamal Abdul Fryhaat had been living in the United States for over 30 years. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to various drug-related offenses and admitted to having suffered a prior prison term. In exchange, defendant was released on his own recognizance on various terms and conditions. Defendant subsequently violated his release terms and was sentenced to six years eight months in state prison. Approximately 17 years later, in 2018, as he was facing deportation proceedings, defendant filed a motion to vacate his guilty plea pursuant to Penal Code section 1473.7, arguing his conviction was legally invalid and not knowingly and intelligently made because neither his trial counsel nor the court advised him about the immigration consequences of his guilty plea. The trial court summarily denied defendant’s motion, and defendant appealed. On appeal, he argued the trial court erred in denying his motion to vacate his conviction because the court summarily denied his motion without a hearing, without his presence, and without appointed counsel in violation of section 1473.7. He therefore requested the matter be remanded for a hearing consistent with the provisions of section 1473.7. The State conceded defendant was partially correct, and that the matter must be remanded. Specifically, the State asserted defendant was entitled to a hearing, but as recent amendments to section 1473.7 made clear, defendant did not have a right to appointed counsel and his presence could adequately be protected by use of telephonic or videoconference services. After review, the Court of Appeal reversed the order denying defendant’s motion to vacate his conviction and remanded with instructions to the trial court to conduct a hearing pursuant to section 1473.7, evaluate defendant’s request for appointed counsel, and to consider the motion on its merits.