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Name: In re Lemanuel C.
Case #: S144515
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 05/24/2007

The extended detention scheme under Welfare and Institutions Code section 1800 satisfies the due process and equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions. Before the minor’s term in the California Youth Authority had expired, his term was extended pursuant to section 1800. Before that term expired, the prosecutor filed a second section 1800 petition to extend his civil confinement. The petition alleged that appellant “would be physically dangerous to the public because of his mental…deficiency, disorder, or abnormality.” The trial court granted the petition, finding beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant would be a physical danger as alleged, and that he had “serious difficulty in controlling his behavior within the meaning of Kansas v. Crane.” Following the affirmance of his conviction by the appellate court, appellant petitioned for review, contending that section 1800 violated his right to due process of law because it does not expressly require a finding that there was “a serious and well-founded risk that he would reoffend if not committed.” The Court disagreed and affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeal. The statute’s requirements that the person be physically dangerous to the public because of his deficiency and that the deficiency causes the person to have serious difficulty controlling his dangerous behavior adequately limit the applicability to youthful offenders whose deficiency causes them to be physically dangerous if not recommitted. A further finding of a risk of reoffending is not required to preserve the statute’s constitutionality. Nor is there a violation of equal protection principles. Youth Authority wards are distinctly different from adult offenders. Although section 1800 is a civil commitment statute, the Legislature enacted the adult civil commitment statutes with different purposes in mind than the purpose of section 1800.