from the Iowa District Court for Muscatine County, Joel W.
Juan Zacarias appeals the dismissal of his application for
Vondra of Vondra & Malott PLC, Iowa City, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Genevieve Reinkoester,
Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Mullins, P.J., Bower, J., and Vogel, S.J.
Juan Zacarias appeals the district court's dismissal of
his application for postconviction relief (PCR), which
challenged his trial counsel's failure to advise him
about immigration consequences of his guilty plea to identity
theft and fraudulent practices. We affirm the district court.
Background Facts & Proceedings.
has resided in the United States since 2006, had completed
all the paperwork to adjust his status to a permanent
resident, and is married to a United States citizen. On July
13, 2016, Zacarias was charged with identity theft, forgery,
and two counts of fraudulent practices.
hired attorney Michael Said to represent him due to
Said's self-proclaimed expertise in criminal and
immigration law. On May 31, 2017, Zacarias filed a written
guilty plea to two misdemeanors: identity theft and one count
of fraudulent practice. The only mention of immigration on
the memorandum of plea agreement is a handwritten provision
at the bottom stating, "The defendant has been notified
that any criminal charge or sentence can or will have
immigration consequences." Zacarias and his interpreter
both signed below the provision. On June 2, the court entered
judgment and imposed a two-year suspended sentence and
minimum fine on each count. The offenses related to
Zacarias's use of another person's information to
obtain employment and register a vehicle. Identity theft is
considered a crime of moral turpitude, and a guilty plea
results in clear immigration consequences, including
mandatory detention and expedited removal.
7, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) took Zacarias
into custody when he went to sign his probation papers. On
August 9, Zacarias filed a PCR application alleging
ineffective assistance of counsel.
a hearing where the court heard testimony from both Zacarias
and Said, the court dismissed Zacarias's application. The
court expressly found Said to be a more credible witness.
Zacarias filed a motion for new trial claiming mistake of
fact as to whether Zacarias had an immigration attorney and
that Said lied during his testimony. The district court
denied the motion. Zacarias appeals.
Standard of Review
review postconviction-relief proceedings for correction of
errors at law. Morales Diaz v. State, 896 N.W.2d
723, 727 (Iowa 2017); see also Iowa R. App. P.
6.907. "But when we are reviewing an
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim, we do so de novo
because such claims are constitutional in nature."
Hernandez Ruiz v. State, 912 N.W.2d 435, 439 (Iowa
2018). We give weight to the trial ...