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Name: People v. Lopez
Case #: E037066
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 03/23/2006

A defendant in a civil commitment proceeding has no right against self incrimination under the Fifth Amendment. A jury found the defendant to be a mentally disordered offender (MDO) within the meaning of Penal Code section 2970. The trial court had permitted the prosecution to read the defendant’s testimony from a 2000 recommitment proceeding into the record after the defendant asserted a Fifth Amendment privilege when called to testify. On appeal the defendant argued that his equal protection rights would be violated if the right against self-incrimination were not applied to MDO proceedings, since that right had been extended to other types of civil commitments by the Fifth District Court of Appeal in People v. Haynie (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 1224 and In re Luis C. (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 1397. After finding in an unpublished part of the opinion that this argument was forfeited by a failure to object, the court noted in the published opinion that an equal protection claim would be successful in this case if Haynie and Luis C. had appropriately extended the privilege against self incrimination to proceedings under Penal Code section 1026.5(b)(7) and Welfare and Institutions Code section 1801.5. However, the court held that the two Fifth District cases had been wrongly decided, noting that the relevant statutes do not mention a privilege against self incrimination and finding that the privilege applies only to criminal proceedings, not to civil commitment proceedings.