People v. Vaca

Filed 3/30/23 CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION IN THE COURT OF APPEAL OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA FIRST APPELLATE DISTRICT DIVISION FOUR THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, A164953 v. JORGE VACA, (Napa County Super. Ct. No. CR179098) Defendant and Appellant. Defendant Jorge Vaca (Vaca) successfully moved under Penal Code1 section 1473.7 to vacate his conviction and withdraw his no contest plea. He appeals from the trial court’s contemporaneous order denying his motion to dismiss the criminal complaint against him under the same statute. Vaca contends that, after the trial court granted his motion to vacate his conviction under section 1473.7, the statute required dismissal of the underlying criminal complaint filed against him. We disagree and affirm the court’s order. BACKGROUND In 2016, Vaca was charged by an amended complaint with violating section 422 and various provisions of the Health & All further references are to the Penal Code unless 1 otherwise stated. 1 Safety Code, including two counts of violating Health & Safety Code section 11379, subdivision (a). Pursuant to a negotiated agreement, Vaca entered a plea of no contest to the two counts of violating Health & Safety Code section 11379, subdivision (a), and the court dismissed the remaining charges. The court placed Vaca on formal probation for three years with a 120-day jail sentence. After completing probation, Vaca moved to vacate his conviction and withdraw his plea under section 1473.7, and the court held an evidentiary hearing. In closing argument, defense counsel stated that Vaca met his burden under section 1473.7 and alluded to dismissal of the case. The People opposed, and, with respect to the request for dismissal, claimed lack of notice and asked for time to brief the issue if the court was inclined to entertain the request. Defense counsel sought to respond, but the court asked him to submit the matter. The court then stated that it was granting Vaca’s motion, and it inquired whether Vaca would retain his counsel. Defense counsel replied that he would likely assist Vaca “until the motion to dismiss part is concluded,” and “invite[d] the Court to dismiss under 1385 and move[d] to dismiss under 1473.7 and 1016.2.” The court responded, “Yes. You had mentioned that. The 1016.2 and the 1385, I’m going to go ahead and deny both of those requests under 1385 and 1016.2. [¶] Under [ ] 1473.7[,] I find the defense has met their burden, but I will not dismiss.” The court reinstated the amended complaint. 2 Vaca timely appealed.2 DISCUSSION I. Appealability As a threshold matter, the Attorney General contends that the court’s order denying Vaca’s request for dismissal is not appealable. Vaca maintains that the order is appealable under sections 1473.7, subdivision (f), and 1237, subdivision (b). Subdivision (f) of section 1473.7 provides: “An order granting or denying the motion is appealable under subdivision (b) of Section 1237 as an order after judgment affecting the substantial rights of a party.” Section 1237, subdivision (b), in turn, provides that a defendant may appeal “[f]rom any order made …

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