State of Washington v. Tara J. Ammons

FILED DECEMBER 7, 2017 In the Office of the Clerk of Court WA State Court of Appeals, Division Ill IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON DIVISION THREE STATE OF WASHINGTON, ) No. 34533-5-111 ) Appellant, ) ) V. ) UNPUBLISHED OPINION ) TARA J. AMMONS, ) ) Respondent. ) PENNELL, J. -In 2009, Tara Ammons was convicted of theft and possession of controlled substances with intent to deliver. Ms. Ammons's case was handled through a stipulated facts trial. This abbreviated procedure was used as a consequence of Ms. Ammons' s failed attempt to divert her charges through a drug court program. Seven years later, Ms. Ammons successfully moved to vacate the drug court agreement, convictions, and judgment and sentence. She argued her convictions were invalid because she had not been aware of potential immigration consequences at the time she entered into drug court and agreed to the possible adverse outcome of a stipulated facts trial. Ms. Ammons' s case is uniquely sympathetic. Having been adopted as a baby by parents who were citizens of the United States, Ms. Ammons reasonably believed she was I l No. 34533-5-III State v. Ammons a U.S. citizen and did not find out otherwise until after she had entered drug court. When presented with Ms. Ammons's motion to vacate, the trial court found Ms. Ammons's equities compelling and granted relief. The court reasoned Ms. Ammons's convictions, by way of a stipulated facts trial, were predicated on a mutual mistake regarding immigration status. The court also excused Ms. Ammons's failure to file a motion to vacate within the standard one-year time frame based on equitable tolling. Although the equities favoring Ms. Ammons are compelling, we find no legal basis to sustain the trial court's disposition. Whatever merits Ms. Ammons's substantive claims may have regarding mutual mistake, her motion to vacate was not timely. The record contains no factual basis for equitable tolling. The trial court's order to vacate is therefore reversed. BACKGROUND In May 2007, Tara Ammons was charged with two counts of theft and two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Hoping to deal with her drug addiction, Ms. Ammons opted to enter drug court. The drug court agreement specified Ms. Ammons was waiving a number of constitutional and statutory rights, 1 and 1 These are the right to: (1) a jury trial, (2) hear and question witnesses, (3) call witnesses on your own behalf, (4) cross-examine the state's witnesses, (5) present evidence, (6) testify or not testify, (7) a CrR 3.5 or CrR 3.6 hearing, and (8) a speedy trial. 2 No. 34533-5-111 State v. Ammons that if she violated any part of the drug court agreement her case would be adjudicated solely on the basis of the police reports and other materials submitted by the prosecutor. Ms. Ammons would have no right to call witnesses or present further evidence. Ms. Ammons entered drug court on January 11, 2008. While the exact date is unclear, ...

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