MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge is allowing a Soviet immigrant to withdraw his guilty plea to a 1995 felony charge that left him in danger of being deported.
District Judge Leslie Halligan ruled earlier this month that Vitaliy Kadoshnikov (vih-TAL’-ee kahd-OSH’-nikov), who was then 18, likely didn’t understand the deportation consequences of a felony conviction, the Missoulian reports.
He received a suspended sentence in the car theft case.
He later moved to Michigan and married a U.S. citizen. The conviction became an issue last summer when a dispute with a neighbor led to the police being called.
Kadoshnikov, who never became a citizen, was held in an immigration detention facility and faced mandatory deportation over the 1995 conviction.
Attorney Colin Stephens filed a motion asking that Kadoshnikov be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing he has “lived a crime-free life,” the same crime now would be considered a misdemeanor and he did not receive the interpreter he requested after he was charged.
Halligan denied his initial request to withdraw the plea, but the Montana Supreme Court said she should make her decision based on the law in effect in 1995, which allowed guilty pleas to be withdrawn for “good cause.”
Missoula County prosecutors agreed that Kadoshnikov should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.
“Mr. Kadoshnikov has discharged his sentence, married a U.S. citizen and become a productive member of society and provider for his family,” Halligan wrote in her order allowing him to withdraw his guilty plea. “He would face a severe hardship if deported.”
Halligan’s order instructs Stephens and Deputy County Attorney Jason Marks to determine how the case should be resolved. Stephens said his client is willing to plead guilty to another charge if it wouldn’t lead to his deportation.