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Can a Judge Grant a Motion if the Case Was Dismissed?

Occasionally, a judge or a prosecutor will question a motion or petition we file after a case was dismissed.  They will say that the judge has no jurisdiction over the case because it was dismissed.  This can be true in some contexts, but in many other contexts it is false.  The following ten situations exemplify when a judge can act even though the case was dismissed.

1.  In a motion to vacate a conviction for immigration issues under Penal Code § 1473.7(a)(1), subsection (e)(2) specifically contemplates a court finding legal invalidity over a case that was dismissed.  It states:
There is a presumption of legal invalidity for the purposes of paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) [the basis for the pending motion] if the moving party pleaded guilty or nolo contendere pursuant to a statute that provided that, upon completion of specific requirements, the arrest and conviction shall be deemed never to have occurred, where the moving party complied with these requirements, and where the disposition under the statute has been, or potentially could be, used as a basis for adverse immigration consequences.
    As the statute describes, “completion of specific requirements” suggests dismissal as in Proposition 36, PC 1000 or informal diversion disposition.  

2.  Under Meyer v. Superior Court (1966) 247 Cal. App. 2d 133, a court may exercise its “sound discretion” to reclassify a felony as a misdemeanor retroactively under Penal Code § 17(b)(3) even after a case was dismissed under Penal Code § 1203.4, particularly where “a conviction which has been expunged still exists for limited purposes, including, among others, evidentiary use at a later trial.”  Meyer, supra, at 140.

3.  Under Penal Code § 1203.43 (effective January 1, 2016), paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(2) of contain general statements of plea invalidity in deferred entry of judgment programs such as in both Prop 36 and PC 1000.  Subparagraph (b) then narrows its focus to PC 1000 matters.  Nonetheless, this statute demonstrates that a court does have the power to act on a case after a dismissal.

4.  Penal Code § 1016.5(c), referring to pleas accepted prior to January 1, 1978, states that “[N]othing in this section, however, shall be deemed to inhibit a court, in the sound exercise of its discretion, from vacating a judgment and permitting a defendant to withdraw a plea.”  Section 1016.5(b), referring to pleas and convictions therefrom suffered after January 1, 1978, has no exclusions for pleas resulting in convictions that were later dismissed under § 1203.4(a) or under any other provision of law.  

5.  A court may grant a motion for reclassification of certain specified felonies and drug offense felonies under “Proposition 47,” at Penal Code § 1170.18, even after the case was dismissed under Penal Code § 1203.4.  People v. Tidwell (2016) 246 Cal. App. 4th 212, 200 Cal. Rptr. 3d 567.

6.  Penal Code § 4852.06 permits a person seeking a certificate of rehabilitation to file such a petition for a certificate of rehabilitation after a case was dismissed under Penal Code § 1203.4.  

7.  Even after a court has granted a petition for dismissal under Penal Code § 1203.4, a court may grant a petition for writ of error coram nobis in the case.  People v. Wiedersperg (1975) 44 Cal. App. 3d 550, 118 Cal. Rptr. 755 (Exh. G); but see People v. Kim (2009) 45 Cal. 4th 1078 (narrowing grounds for petition for writ of coram nobis for immigration purposes based on defendant’s ignorance of immigration consequences).

8.  A court may grant a petition for factual innocence brought under Penal Code § 851.8 after a case is dismissed under certain conditions.

9.  A court may grant a petition to seal brought under Penal Code § 851.91 after a case is dismissed under certain conditions.

10.  Even after a defendant has secured a dismissal of a case under Penal Code § 1210 (as here) under Prop 36, a court of appeal may entertain an appeal to allow defendant “an opportunity to clear her name and rid herself of the stigma of criminality.”  People v. Delong (2002) 101 Cal. App. 4th 482, 484, 124 Cal. Rptr. 2d 293.

For more information about granting a motion after a case was dismissed, please click on the following articles:
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