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Name: People v. Christman
Case #: A138287
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 09/10/2014
Summary

The “one-quarter mile” residency restriction in Welfare and Institutions Code section 6608.5, subdivision (f) should be measured by a straight-line method, rather than a pedestrian-route method. After approximately 15 years of inpatient treatment as a sexually viokent predator (SVP) (based on multiple sex offenses against boys), Christman was conditionally released (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 6608) and the Department of State Hospitals located housing for him near an elementary school in Contra Costa County. Using a straight-line method to calculate the distance between the proposed residence and the school, the residence was less than one-quarter mile away from the school, which is prohibited by a residency restriction (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 6608.5, subd. (f)). However, calculating the distance using a pedestrian-route method resulted in the residence being compliant with the statute. At a hearing to determine Christman’s placement, the County argued that the residency restriction should be measured by a straight-line method. The trial court disagreed and ordered Christman placed at the proposed residence. The County appealed. Held: Reversed. The Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) provides that certain conditionally released SVPs who have a history of sexual misconduct with children “shall not be placed within one-quarter mile” of a school providing instruction to children from kindergarten to grade 12 (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 6608.5, subd. (f)). Applying rules of statutory construction, the court concluded that the residency restriction should be measured by a straight-line measurement from the boundary of the school’s property to the threshold of the primary entrance of the SVP’s residence. “The straight-line method provides a predictable, objectively cognizable measurement which enables the statute to achieve ‘predator free zones’ around schools—which is the obvious purpose for which the residency restriction in section 6608.5, subdivision (f), was enacted.”