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Name: People v. Ricci
Case #: A151291
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 12/14/2017

A defendant who has suffered both felony and misdemeanor convictions in the same case may seek the dismissal of the misdemeanor convictions under Penal Code section 1203.4a. Ricci was convicted in 1996 of one felony count and three misdemeanors and sentenced to prison. In 2016, he petitioned for dismissal of the misdemeanor convictions pursuant to section 1203.4a, which permits convicted misdemeanants who were not granted probation to petition for release from the penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction when specified conditions are met. The trial court denied the petition on the basis that Ricci was convicted of a felony in the same case, noting that the title of section 1203.4a is “Rehabilitation of Misdemeanants,” and section 1203.4a called for the dismissal of the accusatory pleading, which could not happen in a case like Ricci’s where one or more felony counts remained. Ricci appealed. Held: Reversed and remanded for reconsideration of the petition. Section 1203.4a, subdivision (a), applies to “[e]very defendant convicted of a misdemeanor and not granted probation” who meets certain criteria. Based on the plain terms of the statute, the trial court was permitted to consider the petition here and, if the conditions were met, grant relief by dismissing the three misdemeanor counts, leaving the felony count intact. The title of section 1203.4a was irrelevant, as titles and chapter headings are unofficial and do not alter the explicit scope, meaning, or intent of a statute. This conclusion is supported by People v. Mgebrov (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 579, which construed a similar statute that allows a trial court to dismiss felonies and misdemeanors where probation has been granted (Pen. Code, § 1203.4) to permit dismissal of two eligible felony counts even though a third count was expressly excluded from relief under section 1203.4. [Editor’s Note: The Attorney General agreed that the trial court had the authority to rule on the merits of the petition under section 1203.4a.]

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