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Name: People v. Garcia
Case #: F052703
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 08/08/2008
Subsequent History: rev. granted 10/16/08 (S166682)

The Sexually Violent Predators Act, as amended by Proposition 83, does not violate due process, the prohibition against ex post facto laws, double jeopardy, or the equal protection clause; and it does not result in cruel and unusual punishment. Nor does it violate the First Amendment right to petition the government; or the single-subject rule. The appellate court made the following determinations as to the amended SVP Act: Appellant was not denied due process, the court noting, among other points, that the state has the burden of proof at the initial commitment and subsequent hearings if it chooses to oppose a department recommendation for release; that the statute requires annual examinations; and that the department must authorize a committed individual to file a petition for release if the department determines the person’s condition is changed. There is no ex post facto violation because the statutory scheme is not punitive in nature and an indefinite commitment, standing alone, does not establish punishment. Regardless, as the court noted, the commitment is only potentially indefinite as the department must conduct an annual examination. There is no equal protection violation because SVP’s are not similarly situated with other civil committees – the amended SVP being directed at a very narrow group that commits predatory offenses, has a high rate of recidivism, and requires lengthy treatment with limited results. The Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is inapplicable because appellant is not a prisoner, is not being punished, and is only being treated for a mental disorder. There is no infringement of appellant’s First Amendment right to petition the government as he can file a petition, subject only to the requirement that it not be frivolous. Proposition 83 does not violate the single-subject rule since the entire proposition addresses sex offenders.