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Name: State Dept. of State Hospitals
Case #: F077220
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 12/19/2018

A trial court has the discretionary authority to order an alleged SVP placed with the state hospital pre-commitment to be involuntarily medicated upon a proper finding the person is incompetent to refuse medical treatment. J.W. was referred for further confinement under the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) and the trial court found probable cause to set the matter for trial. Pending trial, J.W. was ordered placed at Coalinga State Hospital pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 6602.5. Before his trial, a petition for involuntary medication was filed and the court granted the petition after an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, J.W. challenged the authority of the trial court to order involuntary medication before trial when he had not been committed to the state hospital as an SVP. Holding: Affirmed. A competent adult has a common law and constitutional right to refuse medical treatment, including the administration of antipsychotic drugs. However, an involuntarily committed patient may be forcibly treated with medication if a court has determined that he is not competent to refuse treatment. Although J.W. had not been committed as an SVP and was only being held over for trial under the SVPA, the trial court had the discretionary authority under section 6602.5 to order his involuntary medication upon a proper finding he was incompetent to refuse medical treatment. Under section 6602.5, a trial court has discretion to house a person held on a probable cause finding at a state hospital pending trial. Inherent in that authority is the authority to order the alleged SVP to receive treatment at the state hospital. (People v. Ciancio (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 175.) This authority necessarily includes “the authority and responsibility to determine appellant’s competence should he refuse” the treatment and to order involuntary medication. There was no indication in the record that the trial court did not follow the proper procedures when finding J.W. was incompetent to refuse medical treatment. There was no due process or equal protection violation.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: