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Name: People v. Castillo
Case #: B202289
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 5
Opinion Date: 01/30/2009
Subsequent History: rev. granted 5/13/09 (S171163)

Special instructions concerning volitional impairment were not necessary in SVP trial. Castillo was found to be a sexually violent predator (SVP) and committed to the Department of Mental Health. On appeal, he contended that the trial court failed to specially instruct the jury that it must find that his mental disorder caused him serious difficulty in controlling his dangerous behavior. He acknowledged that in People v. Williams (2003) 31 Cal.4th 117, the court held that instructions analogous to those given at his trial comported with due process, but argued that In re Howard N. (2005) 35 Cal.4th 117casts doubt on Williams and requires additional “volitional impairment” instructions. The appellate court rejected the argument. Nothing in Howard N. abrogates the Williams holding. Further lack of control instructions were not necessary to support the SVPA finding.
The court erred by admitting prosecution evidence concerning the nature of treatment programs. At trial, the court admitted, over Castillo’s objection, testimony concerning the nature of treatment programs offered to SVPs at the hospitals where Castillo had been committed. Castillo conceded that his refusal to participate in the programs was relevant, but contended that once his nonparticipation was established, the details of such programs were not relevant and diverted the attention of the jury. The appellate court rejected the argument, finding that the testimony was not prejudicial.
Appellant’s two-year commitment was an unauthorized sentence and had to be corrected to an indeterminate term mandated by Proposition 83. Respondent argued that the trial court’s imposition of a two-year commitment on Castillo was an unauthorized sentence because the law in effect at the time required an indeterminate term. The appellate court agreed and modified the term of confinement. Proposition 83 took effect nine months before the jury rendered its verdict in Castillo’s case. The trial court had no discretion to formulate an alternative term.