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Name: People v. Riffey
Case #: C055649
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 05/28/2008
Subsequent History: rev. grant/hold 8/20/08, S164711

Application of the amended Sexually Violent Predator Act does not result in impermissible retroactive application of the law, violation of the prohibition against ex post facto laws, violation of due process, or violation of equal protection. A petition to commit appellant to the Department of Mental Health as an SVP was filed prior to amendments to the SVPA providing for an indeterminate term commitment. Because of continuances, appellant’s jury trial was continued until 2007, after the SVPA had been amended to provide for an indeterminate commitment rather than the two year commitment previously authorized. The district attorney filed an amended petition to commit appellant for an indeterminate term pursuant to the amended act. The jury found appellant to be an SVP and the court committed him to the department for an indeterminate term. The appellate court found that there was no impermissible retroactive application of the law as the determination as to whether appellant was an SVP was made at the date of the 2007 hearing; there was no ex post facto violation as the stated intent of the Legislature and the electorate in passing the amendment was not to punish and an indeterminate commitment alone is not so punitive as to constitute punishment; is not violative of due process merely because there is no provision for automatic periodic hearings and the defendant bears the burden of proving he should be released; and, with respect to the MDO and the NGI acts, there is no equal protection violation as the persons under the different acts are not similarly situated, such that they should be dealt with similarly.