Meza v. StateAnnotate this Case
Pursuant to a plea-in-abeyance agreement, Defendant pled no contest to charges of possession and use of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant successfully complied with the terms of the agreement, and the justice court withdrew the plea of no contest and dismissed the two drug charges. Thereafter, Defendant filed an action under the Post-Conviction Remedies Act (PCRA) seeking to withdraw his plea in abeyance, arguing that his attorney provided ineffective assistance by improperly advising him that the abeyance plea carried no immigration consequences. The district court granted the State’s motion to dismiss, concluding that the court could not consider Defendant’s PCRA claim because the only relief available under the PCRA is to set aside a conviction, and the Legislature “did not intend a plea in abeyance to function as either a judgment or a conviction.” The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly concluded that Defendant did not qualify for relief under the PCRA because he was never convicted; and (2) the Court declines to exercise its constitutional power to fashion an alternate remedy because Defendant may obtain relief for the alleged ineffective assistance of counsel by filing a Utah R. Civ. P. 60(b)(6) motion in the justice court.