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Name: Alejandro N. v. Superior Court
Case #: D067445
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 07/23/2015

Minor was entitled to have his juvenile adjudication redesignated as a misdemeanor, in addition to having his maximum term of confinement reduced. Alejandro admitted committing felony commercial burglary. The juvenile court adjudged him a ward and ordered him confined for a maximum period of three years. After Proposition 47 passed, Alejandro filed a petition arguing his commercial burglary offense was now a misdemeanor shoplifting offense with a maximum confinement of six months, which he had already served. Alejandro requested that he be released from custody and that his offense be reclassified as a misdemeanor. The superior court ruled that Alejandro’s commercial burglary offense would be misdemeanor shoplifting under Proposition 47 and reduced his term of confinement under Welfare and Institutions Code section 726, which specifically prohibits punishing juveniles more severely than adults. However, the court declined to reclassify Alejandro’s offense to a misdemeanor because it believed Proposition 47’s reclassification provisions only applied to adults. Alejandro filed a petition for writ of mandate. Held: Peremptory writ issued. Penal Code section 1170.18, enacted by Proposition 47, allows individuals with certain felony “convictions” to be resentenced to misdemeanors. Although juveniles suffer “adjudications,” and not “convictions,” Proposition 47’s substantive offense reclassification provisions apply to juvenile offenders under Welfare and Institutions Code section 602, which provides that jurisdiction over juvenile defenders is based on the codes defining substantive criminal offenses in the adult context. Section 1170.18 directly involves changes to substantive offenses defined by the Penal Code and, under the plain language of section 602, changes effectuated in these substantive offenses apply to juvenile wardships.

On remand, the minor may be eligible for DNA expungement. After Alejandro admitted his felony burglary offense, the juvenile court ordered him to provide a DNA sample for inclusion in the DOJ DNA database. When he filed his Proposition 47 petition, he also requested that his DNA materials be removed from the DOJ DNA database. The court denied his request for DNA expungement, ruling that reduction of an offense from a felony to a misdemeanor under Proposition 47 did not provide a basis for DNA expungement. The Court of Appeal disagreed. Penal Code sections 296 and 296.1 authorize the collection of a DNA sample under a variety of circumstances, including when a person incurs a felony juvenile adjudication. However, these statutes do not authorize the collection of a DNA sample based solely on the commission of a misdemeanor. After reviewing the plain language of section 1170.18 and applying rules of statutory construction, the Court of Appeal concluded that “the voters did not intend that a reclassified misdemeanor offense be deemed a felony for purposes of retention of DNA samples.” The fact that reclassification of a felony to a misdemeanor is not among the grounds listed in Penal Code section 299 for DNA expungement does not change this conclusion. Because the Court of Appeal could not determine from the record whether there was another statutory basis to retain Alejandro’s DNA sample, the superior court was directed to reconsider his expungement request on remand.