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Name: People v. Munoz
Case #: D042016
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 05/13/2005

At appellant’s trial pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600 et seq., the trial court erred when it admitted evidence concerning appellant’s two prior SVP commitments. The requirement of a new determination of SVP status every two years arises from the requirement that the commitment must be based on a currently diagnosed mental disorder. While a prior commitment has some relevance in determining whether a defendant has a current disorder, the relevance is limited and great care must be taken in admitting evidence concerning the prior commitment. Petitioner is required to prove that the defendant is an SVP, not that he is still an SVP. Each recommitment requires independent proof that a defendant has a currently diagnosed mental disorder making him a danger. It may impossible to avoid the jury learning of the prior commitment, as it may be necessary to discuss treatment and behavior while in the state hospital. But it is necessary that nothing be done which suggests that the jury’s task is to compare the present mental status with the earlier finding that the defendant is an SVP or effectively lessen the state’s burden.