Penal Code section 1203.4 is the exclusive method by which a trial court can dismiss the conviction of a defendant who has successfully completed probation. Chavez pleaded no contest to offering to sell a controlled substance and failure to appear. He was placed on probation for four years. After Chavez successfully completed probation, he filed a motion pursuant to Penal Code section 1385, requesting that the action be dismissed. The trial court found it had no authority after probation has expired to entertain the motion under section 1385. Chavez appealed. Held: Affirmed. An eligible defendant may move to withdraw his plea after the termination of the period of probation and enter a plea of not guilty (Pen. Code, § 1203.4, subd. (a)(1)). A defendant is entitled to relief if (1) he has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire period of probation; (2) he has been discharged prior to the termination of probation; or (3) the trial court finds the defendant should be granted the relief requested; and (4) the defendant is not then serving a sentence or on probation for any offense, or is not charged with the commission of any offense. Dismissal of the charges under section 1203.4 releases the defendant from many of the penalties/disabilities resulting from the conviction, but does not erase them. On the other hand, dismissal of an action under section 1385 wipes the slate clean as though the defendant had never been prosecuted or suffered the conviction. Section 1203.4 was enacted after section 1385 and is more specific, relating to the limited power of dismissal for purposes of probation. Section 1385 is a general statute that relates to the broad scope of dismissal and does not reference probation. A specific statutory provision relating to a particular subject will govern a general one. The trial court’s holding was correct.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/C074138.PDF