The Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards has prevailed in a petition for post-conviction relief in Somerset County Superior Court, resulting in a seven-year-old indictment being dismissed, and allowing for the client to proceed unhindered in her immigration application.

The client had pleaded guilty in 2011 to endangering the welfare of a child and had been placed on a short term of probation, which she completed successfully. The client indicated, however, that she was innocent of this charge, and that she had only entered the plea because she was under duress at the time. Specifically, she had been arrested and in jail for roughly one month before even appearing in court, as she could not make bail due to her immigration status. She was therefore unable to be at home to take care of her ailing father, as well as the rest of her family. By entering the guilty plea, she had hoped that she would be released from jail much sooner than had she waited a year or so for a trial.

Unfortunately, this guilty plea had the disadvantage of imperiling her immigration status, even though her husband is a United States citizen. As such, she enlisted the aid of Jordan Rickards to have the plea dismissed six years after the fact so that she would not be deported.

This brought with it a number of challenges. First, petitions for post-conviction relief, which are rarely granted at all, generally must be filed within five years of the conviction. In this case, the client was already one year out of time to file the petition, but after briefing the issue Rickards was able to successfully convince the court at a hearing to allow the petition to proceed as it was in the interests of justice to do so.

Once the petition was allowed to go forward, the court heard two days of testimony from the alleged victim, who recanted his story, as well as the client, who maintained her innocence, and reiterated that she had only entered the guilty plea because she wanted to be released from jail. The court also heard testimony from an investigator from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, who maintained that the client had been guilty all along. After written summations were submitted, the court determined that the client’s testimony had been credible, that she had made a colorable claim of innocence, and that the petition must therefore be granted and the indictment dismissed.

For help with your post-conviction relief petition, contact The Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., for a consultation, at 732-297-8200, or use the contact form on this page.