Subsequent history: Petition for review denied and remittitur issued.
Allen pleaded guilty to committing felony welfare fraud in 1993, 1997, and 2000 (and to committing felony perjury in 2000). In 2018, Allen filed petitions under Penal Code sections 1203.4 and 1203.42 seeking discretionary “expungement” of her convictions on the basis she had been rehabilitated. She also sought to stay, dismiss, or delete her court-ordered fines and fees because she asserted she was unable to pay them. The trial court denied Allen’s petitions because she still owed direct victim restitution, but did not directly address her request for relief from the fines and fees. On appeal, Allen argued that under Dueñas, the trial court’s denial of her expungement petitions on the basis of her outstanding victim restitution obligations violated her due process or equal protection rights because she was financially unable to pay the victim restitution.
- Denying Allen’s request for discretionary expungement under sections 1203.4 and 1203.42 based on her outstanding direct victim restitution obligations did not violate due process or equal protection. (Agreeing with the reasoning in People v. Covington (2000) 82 Cal.App.4th 1263, which held that denying mandatory expungement on the basis of an indigent defendant’s outstanding victim restitution obligation does not violate due process or equal protection.)
- Duenas is distinguishable because Allen’s case involves voter-mandated direct victim restitution intended to make the victim whole (Pen. Code, § 1202.4, subd. (f)). Dueñas involved revenue-generating assessments and a punitive restitution fine (Pen. Code, § 1202.4, subd. (b)).
- Even if the court was inclined to extend Dueñas to victim restitution, it would adopt the reasoning of the numerous courts that have rejected Dueñas’s due process analysis. (Citing People v. Hicks (2019) 40 Cal.App.5th 320, 326329; People v. Aviles (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 1055, 10681069; People v. Kopp (2019) 38 Cal.App.5th 47, 9697; People v. Gutierrez (2019) 35 Cal.App.5th 1027, 1034 (conc. opn. of Justice Benke).)
- To the extent any of the more general due process underpinnings discussed in Dueñas apply here, they support the conclusion there was no due process violation. The court provided some discussion on this point.
- There is a rational basis for withholding expungement of a conviction as an inducement to ensuring a victim receives its voter-enacted, constitutionally enumerated right to full restitution.
- The trial court understood the scope of its discretion related to the expungement petitions and did not abuse its discretion.
- The case was remanded to the trial court to consider in the first instance Allen’s request for relief from the court-ordered fines and fees other than victim restitution. The court expressed no opinion on how the trial court should exercise its discretion on this issue.
- Because the record was unclear regarding whether Allen paid all the victim restitution owed in connection with her convictions in 2000, the Court of Appeal directed the trial court to make this factual determination and, if the court determines she has paid it all, to reconsider her expungement petition in light of that fact.