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Name: People v. Hayes
Case #: A099175
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 01/31/2003
Subsequent History: none

A violation of Penal Code section 452, subdivision (b), recklessly setting a fire, is not a qualifying offense as a crime of “force or violence” under the mentally disordered offenders statutes (MDO law). In 1999 appellant pled guilty to section 452 offense for setting fire to his hotel room. The manager entered the room and put out the fire but found appellant sitting in the corner saying, “The devil came in my room.” Appellant was committed to Atascadero State Hospital as an MDO pursuant to section 2962. At the recommitment hearing in 2002, the hospital psychiatrist testified that appellant had a severe mental disorder that was not in remission, and that appellant still represented a substantial danger of physical harm to others. The MDO law (sec. 2950 et seq.) did not originally contain a list of qualifying crimes. Later a list of crimes were added with a “catch-all” provision allowing for crimes not enumerated if the defendant committed a crime using force or violence, or caused serious bodily injury. Section 452 does not fit within the catch-all provision. Although sections 451 and 455 are enumerated, both require a showing that the defendant acted willfully and maliciously; section 452 requires only a showing of recklessness.