Because defendant’s Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150 hold did not automatically toll the 60-day time period for his preliminary hearing, the information in his case must be set aside. Defendant was charged with a felony in a complaint and was arraigned. He did not waive his right to have the preliminary hearing commence within 60 days. However, he did not appear on the date set for the hearing because he was in custody at a hospital for a mental health evaluation pursuant to section 5150. The preliminary hearing was ultimately held more than 60 days after the arraignment. Defendant’s motions to dismiss the complaint and set aside the information for failure to hold the preliminary hearing within 60 days of arraignment were denied. He filed a petition for writ of prohibition or other appropriate relief in the Court of Appeal. Held: Petition granted. In pertinent part, Penal Code section 859b requires dismissal of a complaint if the preliminary hearing is set or continued more than 60 days from the date of arraignment, unless the defendant personally waives his right to a preliminary hearing within 60 days. There is no good-cause exception to the 60-day rule and no statutory provision that automatically tolls the 60-day time period for defendants who are receiving a mental health evaluation. The People argued that the 60-day period was tolled under Welfare and Institutions Code section 4011.6, which provides that the time a prisoner spends in a facility for a section 5150 hold shall not be computed in any statutory time requirements for arraignment or trial in any pending criminal or juvenile proceedings if the person in charge of the facility determines that arraignment or trial would be detrimental to the well-being of the prisoner. Without deciding whether section 4011.6 provides for tolling of the 60-day period for preliminary examinations, the Court of Appeal concluded the record did not support tolling in this case. There was no evidence that the person in charge of the hospital determined that arraignment or trial would be detrimental to defendant before the 60-day period ended.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/archive/A157306.PDF