In People v. J.W., the defendant, a Jamaican citizen but permanent resident of the United States, was accused of felony perjury, a crime of moral turpitude. He had obtained a California driver’s license using a false name and then purchased an expensive BMW automobile in that name. When payments on the note for that vehicle stopped, it was repossessed in very bad condition, costing the lender over $20,000. Subsequent law-enforcement investigation determined the defendant’s true name as his driver’s license application included his photograph and thumbprint. Felony charges were filed against him while he was seeking U.S. citizenship. The case was indefensible and the defendant faced not only denial of citizenship but mandatory deportation. Although the deputy district attorney initially sought a state prison sentence, Attorney Dudley was able to convince him to allow the defendant to plead to a lesser felony, not a crime of moral turpitude, with no custody time, 80 days of community service, and no restitution. Upon completion of that community service, the case will be reduced to a misdemeanor, allowing Mr. Dudley’s client to remain in the country and obtain his citizenship if he is otherwise qualified.
If this case had been handled by a typical public defender or lesser private attorney, the defendant would likely have been told to plead guilty to a felony crime of moral turpitude, sentenced to a prison term, forced to pay over $20,000 to the finance company, and then deported from the United States. By hiring an experienced, aggressive criminal defense attorney, the defendant preserved his freedom, saved a considerable amount of money, and ensured that he would remain in this country with his fiancé and several children.