Alejandro N. v. Super. Ct.Annotate this Case
In 2014 California voters passed Proposition 47, which reclassified certain offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. Proposition 47 also enacted Penal Code section 1170.18, which created a procedure whereby a defendant who suffered a felony conviction of one of the reclassified crimes could petition to have his or her conviction redesignated a misdemeanor. After the passage of Proposition 47, Alejandro N. filed a section 1170.18 petition to change his juvenile felony adjudication to a misdemeanor. The superior court agreed that Alejandro's offense qualified as a misdemeanor for purposes of section 1170.18's sentence reduction provisions. Based on Welfare and Institutions Code section 726 (which provided that a juvenile offender could not be physically confined longer than an adult offender for the same offense) the court reduced Alejandro's maximum period of confinement to the misdemeanor level. However, the court declined to reclassify Alejandro's offense from a felony to a misdemeanor under section 1170.18's offense reclassification provisions, ruling that because section 1170.18 used the adult offender terminology of "conviction," the statute did not apply to juvenile offenders. Alejandro filed a petition for writ of mandate challenging the superior court's ruling. Upon review, the Court of Appeal held that the offense reclassification provisions set forth in section 1170.18 applied to juveniles. Based on the reclassification of his offense from a felony to a misdemeanor, Alejandro also requested that the superior court: (1) order his DNA sample and information removed from the state's data base; and (2) reduce his fine to a misdemeanor level. The Court of Appeal agreed that a reclassified misdemeanor offense under Proposition 47 could not alone support retention of DNA materials in the state's DNA data bank, and the Court directed the superior court to expunge Alejandro's DNA unless there was another basis to retain it apart from his mere commission of the reclassified misdemeanor offense. As to Alejandro's request for a fine reduction, he did not refute the trial court's finding that his $50 fine was already at the misdemeanor level. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal granted the petition in part and directed the superior court to (1) reclassify Alejandro's felony offense as a misdemeanor, and (2) reconsider his request for DNA expungement. The Court denied the petition as to his request for fine reduction.