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Name: People v. Sanders
Case #: B225024
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 4
Opinion Date: 02/21/2012

In an SVPA [Sexually Violent Predator Act] proceeding, a defendant’s admission to the allegation in the petition forecloses appellate review of a claimed violation of a federal due process right to a “speedy trial.” The SVPA provides for involuntary commitment of certain sex offenders likely to reoffend but does not specify a time by which trial on commitment proceedings must commence. However, although the SVPA involves a civil commitment rather than a criminal proceeding, the federal due process clause extends to the SVPA by requiring a hearing “at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.” Here, a petition was filed seeking commitment of appellant as a sexually violent predator. Appellant subsequently admitted the allegations of the petition and received an agreement of a two-year commitment. [During the proceedings, the statute had been amended to provide for an indeterminate term, rather than the previous two-year commitment.] On appeal, appellant claimed a “speedy trial” violation. In a criminal proceeding, the essence of a speedy trial claim based on delay is that the passage of time has frustrated the defendant’s ability to defend himself. With a guilty plea, he concedes the absence of prejudice, having admitted all matters essential to conviction. Here, the court found any claimed error in an SVPA proceeding based on delay likewise is waived with an admission to the allegations in the petition.