Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Balderas v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 21, 2018

Romana Balderas, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Respondent

          Appeal from the Clinton Circuit Court The Honorable Bradley K. Mohler, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 12C01-1705-PC-444

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Kevin C. Munoz Emma Jo Ann Mahern Munoz Legal, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Jesse R. Drum Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          BAKER, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Romana Balderas appeals the post-conviction court's denial of her petition for post-conviction relief after Balderas pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit forgery, a Class C felony. Balderas argues that the laches defense does not apply to her case and that her trial counsel provided ineffective assistance pursuant to Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), by not advising her of the severe deportation consequences that could accompany a guilty plea. Finding that laches bars Balderas's case, we affirm.

         Facts[1]

         [¶2] On January 5, 2005, a confidential informant working with the Indiana State Police sold Balderas a fake Social Security card and a woman's resident alien ID card for $200. At the time, Balderas was not yet a lawful, permanent resident in the United States. On January 11, 2005, the State charged her with two counts of Class C felony conspiracy to commit forgery and one count of Class C felony corrupt business influence. While her criminal case was pending, Balderas worked with an immigration attorney to become a lawful, permanent resident.

         [¶3] On March 15, 2006, Balderas pleaded guilty to one count of Class C felony conspiracy to commit forgery pursuant to a written plea agreement. In exchange for pleading guilty, the State dismissed the other charges. If found guilty at trial, Balderas could have been sentenced up to eight years for each Class C felony count with a potential aggregate sentence of twenty-four years.[2]Balderas claims that at some point, she informed her criminal attorney that she was not a lawful, permanent resident and that her attorney did not advise her of the severe deportation consequences that accompany a guilty plea.

         [¶4] The trial court sentenced her to a two-year term fully suspended to probation. The State, thinking the case was completed, returned Balderas's property and destroyed pertinent evidence such as recordings, cassette tapes, and photographs. The State retained only photocopies of certain documents. Balderas became a lawful, permanent resident in March 2015 after marrying her husband, a U.S. citizen.

         [¶5] On April 28, 2017, Balderas filed a petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that her trial counsel was ineffective for not advising her that she could be deported if she pleaded guilty. She also claims that she would not have pleaded guilty had she known this information. Though Balderas has not been deported, she is at risk of deportation if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) brings an action against her.

         [¶6] At the post-conviction hearing, the State raised the defense of laches and claimed that it would be prejudiced because Balderas waited almost twelve years before she petitioned for post-conviction relief. Additionally, the State had already destroyed key evidence that it would need to defend against a post-conviction action. The post-conviction court denied Balderas's petition for post-conviction relief, agreeing with the State that laches barred her action from proceeding.

         [¶7] The post-conviction court further held that Balderas's claim for ineffective assistance of counsel fails because (1) even if the criminal attorney did not warn her about the deportation consequences, surely the immigration attorney did; (2) Balderas's testimony that she would not have pleaded guilty had she known about the deportation consequences was not enough to show prejudice; (3) the State had ample evidence with which to convict Balderas had she gone to trial; and (4) Balderas received a better bargain by pleading guilty. Balderas now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶8] Balderas argues that the post-conviction court erroneously denied her petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that laches does not bar her case from proceeding. She also argues that the Padilla standard for ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.