When a defendant found incompetent to stand trial does not regain competence and is released following a three-year involuntary commitment, he may be rearrested on charges that are refiled under Penal Code section 1387. Jackson was charged with sexual misconduct in Riverside County. The court declared a doubt as to his competency and suspended criminal proceedings. Jackson was ultimately declared incompetent to stand trial and committed to Patton State Hospital for up to the maximum term of three years (Pen. Code, § 1370), during which time he did not regain competence. Because he was not the subject of a conservatorship, he was released. The prosecution obtained a superseding indictment with charges identical to the original complaint (Pen. Code, § 1387) and Jackson was rearrested. He moved for his release, arguing he could not be arrested because he had already been committed for the full three years authorized by section 1370. The trial court denied the motion and he petitioned for a writ of mandate. The Court of Appeal denied the petition and the Supreme Court granted review. Held: Affirmed. Section 1387 generally permits the prosecution to refile felony charges following dismissal only once and the criminal proceedings start anew. After analyzing the competency statutes and relevant case law, the Supreme Court concluded that there was no reason to believe the Legislature intended to constrain the prosecution from refiling charges under section 1387 by setting the three-year commitment limit in section 1370. Thus, a previously committed “defendant may be rearrested, and a trial court may order a new competency hearing, following the prosecution’s dismissal and refiling of felony charges pursuant to section 1387 even if the defendant was previously committed for three years.”
The refiling authority set forth in Penal Code section 1387 may not be used in a manner that violates a defendant’s rights. The Legislature has determined that an incompetent defendant’s right to only be committed for a reasonable period of time to determine whether there is a substantial probability that he will attain competence in the foreseeable future is protected by limiting the commitment to no more than three years. Thus, after rearrest, if the defendant is found incompetent to stand trial, he may be further committed for evaluation or treatment only for the balance of the time remaining under section 1370. If the defendant has already been committed for the maximum period of time, the trial court’s options are to initiate conservatorship proceedings or to release the defendant.
The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S235549.PDF