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Name: People v. Johnson
Case #: E055690
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 11/20/2012

A defendant who failed to fulfill the terms of his probation may not obtain relief under Penal Code section 1203.4 just because his probation is terminated early. In 2002 appellant was placed on summary probation for misdemeanor spousal battery (Pen. Code, § 273.5, subd. (a)). He was ordered to attend a 52-week batterer’s program and subjected to other terms of probation. His probation was violated and reinstated on several occasions for failure to comply with terms and conditions. Ultimately, the court committed him to jail, concurrent with prison sentences in two felony cases, and terminated his probation early after he admitted a violation. In 2011, he moved under section 1203.4 to set aside his plea and dismiss the charge on the ground his probation had been terminated early. The trial court denied the motion. Held: Affirmed. Section 1203.4, subdivision (a)(1) provides relief from conviction where a defendant has fulfilled the conditions of probation for the entire probationary period, or has been discharged prior to the termination of the period of probation. Where applicable, the section allows a defendant to withdraw his guilty plea and enter a plea of not guilty, after which the trial court sets aside the verdict and dismisses the case. It relieves a defendant of most of the disabilities of conviction. However, “discharge” is not synonymous with “termination.” “Discharge” means the release of a defendant from the terms and restraints of probation. To be eligible for section 1203.4 relief, a defendant must show more than early termination of probation; he must show that termination was attributable to the successful completion of probation, whether during the probationary term or earlier. The intent of section 1203.4 is to effect the rehabilitation of those convicted of a crime; it is a reward for good conduct. Defendant never fulfilled the conditions of his probation and is ineligible for relief.