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Name: In re C.H.
Case #: A146120
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 08/30/2016

Following redesignation of juvenile adjudication for felony offense to misdemeanor under Proposition 47 (Pen. Code, § 1170.18), offender was not entitled to have DNA samples expunged from state database. After Proposition 47 passed, C.H. filed a petition to have his 2011 felony grand theft adjudication redesignated as a misdemeanor. The court granted his petition. C.H. also moved to have the DNA sample he provided pursuant to Penal Code section 296.1 expunged because misdemeanants are not required to provide one. The court denied his request. He appealed. Held: Affirmed. Proposition 47 reduced a number of drug and theft offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and created a mechanism for eligible individuals to have old felony convictions for those offenses reduced to misdemeanors. Section 1170.18, subdivision (k) provides that once an offense is reduced to a misdemeanor, it shall be treated as a “misdemeanor for all purposes.” However, the “for all purposes” language also exists in section 17, subdivision (b), and courts have held that its “for all purposes” language is not retroactive. (See People v. Park (2013) 56 Cal.4th 782, 796.) When identical language is used in statutes with analogous subject matter as a matter of statutory construction it “should receive the same interpretation.” C.H. had to submit samples at a period in time when his offense was a felony. The fact his felony was later reduced to a misdemeanor “for all purposes” does not retroactively require that those samples be expunged. This conclusion is supported by Proposition 69 (the DNA Fingerprint, Unsolved Crime and Innocence Protection Act) and public safety concerns outlined in Proposition 47.

Equal protection does not require DNA expungement following redesignation of a felony as a misdemeanor pursuant to Proposition 47. C.H. argued that equal protection prohibits treating him differently than an offender who commits an offense after Proposition 47’s enactment and is not required to provide a DNA sample because the offense is a misdemeanor. The Court of Appeal disagreed, applying a rational basis test. “Preserving the integrity and vitality of the state’s DNA database system provides a rational basis to retain the DNA and profiles of offenders who were convicted before enactment of Proposition 47, even if they would not be required to provide DNA if convicted after its effective date. It is reasonable to conclude that a more comprehensive database, with samples from more offenders, is a more effective and utilitarian database.”

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: