Vacate Law & Legal Definition


Vacate is a term subject to different meanings. In the context of a court order or decision, vacate means to overrule or void. A decision may be vacated for error, however, the error must be significant enough that it affected the outcome. Vacating a conviction for a crime sometimes refers to when a court determines you have met certain conditions and orders the conviction removed from your criminal history record. Vacate orders are also issued in domestic relations cases, usually to order a spouse to leave the marital home.

In the context of landlord-tenant law, vacate means to leave the premises, either voluntarily or involuntarily. A landlord generally may not evict a tenant from a rental unit for any reason, other than for nonpayment, unless he or she has served the tenant with a valid written notice to vacate. Local laws, which vary, govern the notice requirements for a landlord seeking a tenant's vacancy.

For example, under 28 U.S.C. 2255, a person convicted of a crime in federal court may file Motion to Vacate Conviction and/or Sentence requesting a new trial or sentencing if he believes his conviction or sentence is unconstitutional or because he received ineffective assistance of counsel. This motion is filed in the federal court in which the conviction took place. There are strict time requirements for filing a Motion to Vacate Conviction and/or Sentence. If a Motion to Vacate Conviction and/or Sentence is denied, appeal can be made to the appropriate United States Court of Appeals. State remedies for vacating a conviction vary by state. Some of the grounds for vacating a conviction, among others, include:

  1. Conviction obtained by plea of guilty which was unlawfully induced or not made voluntarily or with understanding of the nature of the charge and the consequences of the plea.
  2. Conviction obtained by use of coerced confession.
  3. Conviction obtained by use of evidence gained pursuant to an unconstitutional search and seizure.
  4. Conviction obtained by use of evidence obtained pursuant to an unlawful arrest.
  5. Conviction obtained by a violation of the privilege against self-incrimination.
  6. Conviction obtained by the unconstitutional failure of the prosecution to disclose to the defendant evidence favorable to the defendant.
  7. Conviction obtained by a violation of the protection against double jeopardy.
  8. Conviction obtained by action of a grand or petit jury which was unconstitutionally selected and impaneled.
  9. Denial of effective assistance of counsel.
  10. Denial of right of appeal.
  11. Concealing crucial facts from the court, effectively deprived those represented of their day in court, so as to constitute fraud on the court.
  12. Lack of jurisdiction to hear the matter, such as when required service of notice wasn't made on a defendant.