svpa compendium


Year 1998 – Earlier

Year 1998
California Court of Appeal

People v. Butler (H017510, 12/7/98)
68 Cal.App.4th 421 (DCA 6)
[3.C.3.c.] The Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA) applies to individuals convicted under the pre-1980 rape statute, because the crime described by that statute is equivalent to that described in Penal Code section 261, subdivision (a)(2), which would be a qualifying offense under the SVPA. The documents entered into evidence to prove the rape specify that the rape was committed by means of force or violence. The fact that the offense is not specifically listed as a qualifying offense under section 6600, subdivision (b), does not exempt it from the law. The prior offenses, which have been amended, contained precisely the same elements as those which are qualifying offenses under the SVPA. To read the SVPA so literally as to exclude those same offenses would result in absurd consequences which the Legislature did not intend. [3.C.] There was sufficient evidence that appellant suffered from a "diagnosed mental disorder." It was shown that appellant suffered from paraphilia and that his alcoholism made him lose control, act on those impulses, and become dangerous to others.


People v. Hatfield (A077239, 12/4/98)
68 Cal.App.4th 594 (DCA 1, Div.1)
[Editor's note: opn. ordered nonpub. Mar. 17, 1999]
[1.A.] [5.C.] A defendant's right to confrontation is not violated by the admission of documentary evidence of prior convictions to establish his qualification, under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600, as a sexually violent predator. Appellant maintained his rights under the statutory scheme to obtain and contest the reports upon which the evaluations of experts were based, to cross-examine the experts on the basis of the information at their disposal, and to present conflicting testimony of his own. The documentary evidence of the prior convictions had sufficient indicia of reliability to satisfy due process standards. Insistence on proof of the nature and details of prior convictions without reliance on hearsay evidence would impose an unreasonable burden on the prosecution. [3.C.3.b.] The record supports the court's finding that the prior convictions included acts of force, fear, duress, or substantial sexual conduct upon very young victims as defined by the governing statutes. [6.] The instructions which defined "mental disorder' were not constitutionally deficient for want of a specific "inability to control" language. It is the prediction of future dangerousness, whether due to inability to control behavior or a compelled choice to so act, that justifies a civil commitment. The instructions given by the trial court, therefore, adequately conveyed to the jury the fundamental standard of future dangerousness caused by compulsion associated with a mental disorder. [6.] The statute and instructions, which defined a sexually violent predator as one "likely to engage in sexually violent criminal behavior due to a mental disorder" also did not permit the element of likely future criminal conduct to be proved by a standard less than beyond a reasonable doubt, and they were not likely to confuse the jury irreparably. [3.B.] Nothing in Welfare and Institutions Code section 6604 suggests that time spent in custody prior to trial on a sexually violent predator petition must be subtracted from the ultimate confinement time imposed. Penal Code section 2900.5 also does not authorize custody credit to appellant. Therefore, appellant was not improperly denied credits for the 177 days he spent awaiting trial on the petition. [1.B.] The provisions of Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600 do not violate the equal protection clauses of the state and federal Constitutions. [1.D.] [1.F.] Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600 does not violate the ex post facto and double jeopardy clauses of the Constitution. The nature and effect of the statute is non-penal and not an extension of the sentence for the underlying crime. [1.A.] The definition of mental disorder in the Sexually Violent Predator Act is sufficiently narrowly drawn to serve the compelling state interest of protecting its citizens, and is therefore not a violation of due process.


People v. Herrera (B118919, 9/23/98)
66 Cal.App.4th 1149 (DCA 2, Div. 6)
[Editor's note: while review was denied on January 20, 1999, Justices Mosk and Kennard voted to grant review]
[3.D.] The denial of an inmate's request for discharge pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act is an appealable order. However, where an inmate had requested a hearing, but provided no evidence that his mental disorder had changed enough to justify release, the court's summary denial of the petition based on the annual progress report was appropriate, and no hearing to show cause was required. Further, although appellant had the right to be present and represented by counsel at the hearing to show cause, there was no denial of that right because no hearing took place.


In re Parker (1/22/98)
60 Cal.App.4th 1453 (DCA 4)
[2.] [5.C.] [7.] This petition for writ of habeas corpus was granted because the trial court, over petitioner's objection, determined there was probable cause to believe petitioner likely to engage in sexually violent predatory criminal behavior upon his release, under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6602 (Sexually Violent Predators Act), without holding a hearing, and based on inadmissible hearsay to which petitioner objected. Section 6602 is ambiguous regarding the scope of a probable cause hearing, and the legislative history lends little assistance. However, other provisions of the statute, as well as its general purpose, evidence an intent to provide an SVP with more than a "paper review." The SVP should have an opportunity to be fully heard on the issue of probable cause at the section 6602 hearing and to cross-examine the hearsay declarants. The failure to do so deprived appellant of due process of law.


Garcetti v. Superior Court (B126210, 12/23/98)
68 Cal.App.4th 1105 (DCA 2, Div. 3)
[Editor's note: while review was denied on March 17, 1999, Justice Kennard voted to grant review]
[4.] The Court of Appeal here granted the People's petition for writ of mandate where it found the trial court did have jurisdiction to proceed on the petition for commitment pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predators Act, and irrespective of the circumstances of Lyle's parole revocation. Here, the trial court dismissed the petition to extend the commitment because at the time the People filed it, Lyles was not lawfully in custody. Lyles' parole had been unlawfully revoked under Terhune v. Superior Court (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 864.


Year 1997
California Court of Appeal

People v. Hedge (D026713, D027221, D026867, D026742, D027701, D026868, D027104, 7/22/97)
56 Cal.App.4th 773 (DCA 4, Div. 1)
[Review was granted on October 29, 1997, and dismissed on February 16, 2000 (S063954).]
[1.D.] [1.F.] Because the intent of the Legislature in enacting California's Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA) was civil, as was the case in Kansas v. Hendricks (1997) 521 U.S. 346, the Court of Appeal held the SVPA satisfies federal substantive due process and does not violate the constitutional guarantees of equal protection or against ex post facto laws and double jeopardy. As further evidence that confinement under the SVPA is civil and not intended to be retributive, the SVPA does not require "scienter." Because the statute is not penal, it does not violate the ex post facto clause or the double jeopardy clause. [1.A.] [1.B.] Citing Kansas v. Hendricks (1997) 521 U.S. 346, the court rejected appellant's claim that the SVPA violates substantive due process in that the definition of "diagnosed mental disorder" allows the indefinite commitment of those labeled individuals based only upon a conclusion that the individual is dangerous and without a finding of mental illness in the constitutional sense required by Foucha v. Louisiana (1992) 504 U.S. 71. Although a conclusive presumption of current dangerousness based only on past violent felonious conduct would deny equal protection, here a finding that the person is presently a danger to others, in addition to having a mental illness and qualifying past criminal conduct, based on the appropriate standard of proof, satisfies due process concerns. It also satisfies equal protection concerns in light of a compelling state interest.


People v. Putney (A075990, 9/4/97)
57 Cal.App.4th 739 (DCA 1, Div. 5)
[Review was granted on December 23, 1997, and dismissed on February 16, 2000 (S065144).]
[1.D.] [3.C.3.a.] [7.] The 1997 amendment to the Sexually Violent Predator Act modified the definition of a sexually violent predator to provide that a determinate sentence need not have been imposed for the sexually violent offense. Appellant here argued that because he received only one determinate term for his sexually violent offenses, the prosecutor had failed to satisfy the evidentiary burden imposed under the statute. The appellate court rejected that argument, finding that mentally ill persons gain no perpetual vested right in the commitment scheme extant when their illnesses first came to public attention. Moreover, respondent could have dismissed the petition and refiled after the effective date of the amendments because this is a civil proceeding which does not implicate double jeopardy concerns. Relying on Kansas v. Hendricks (1997) 521 U.S. 346, the court rejected the ex post facto claim under the state and federal constitutions, finding that the act is not punitive and that its ancillary purpose is treatment. The Act does not impose punishment for prior offenses, but treats prior offenses as evidence that a person is a sexually violent predator. Moreover, a criminal conviction is not required to invoke the Act, so a person absolved of criminal responsibility can still be subject to commitment under the Act.


Year 1996
California Court of Appeal

Garcetti v. Superior Court (Rasmuson) (B103020, 10/10/96)
49 Cal.App.4th 1533 (DCA 2, Div. 2)
[Editor's note: review was granted on February 5, 1997, and dismissed February 16, 2000 (S057336).]
[1.D.] The Second District addressed the ex post facto issue analyzed by the First District in People v. Superior Court (Cain) (October 1, 1996) 96 DJDAR 12033 and concluded that the trial court's ruling on the demurrer, without benefit of evidentiary facts, is essentially a ruling that the Sexually Violent Predators Act is facially unconstitutional as to all offenders whose crimes preceded its enactment. This is a stringent test because under state and federal law, the challenger must establish that no set of circumstances exists under which the SVPA would be valid. Finding that no exception to that test applied here, the court concluded that the SVPA does not prescribe added punishment for past crimes, and that the SVPA could be constitutionally applied to any theoretical sex offender whose crimes predate the Act.


People v. Superior Court (Cain) (A074501, 10/1/96)
49 Cal.App.4th 1164 (DCA 1, Div. 5)
[Editor's note: review was granted on February 5, 1997, and dismissed on February 16, 2000 (S057272).]
[1.D.] The Sexually Violent Predators Act (Welf. & Inst. Code, div. 6, pt. 2, ch. 2, art. 4, §§ 6600 et seq.) is not an ex post facto law. Pursuant to the act, the People here filed petitions against the real parties in interest, ten prisoners who had been convicted of sexually violent felonies and were about to complete their sentences. The petitions alleged that the prisoners are sexually violent predators (i.e., each has been diagnosed with a mental disorder which makes it likely he will commit sexually violent felonies if released) and should be civilly committed as sexually violent predators and confined for treatment. The trial court granted the parties' motions to dismiss on ex post facto grounds, because if there was no showing that the predators were amenable to treatment, the law allowed for physical confinement beyond the length of the criminal sentences where the purpose was punitive and not curative. The appellate court disagreed and granted a peremptory writ of mandate in these consolidated writ proceedings, holding that the SVPA is neither retroactive nor penal, and acknowledging that the lack of amenability to treatment does not render mental health commitments unconstitutional if the confinement is necessary for the protection of others.


Hubbart v. Superior Court (Santa Clara County)
50 Cal.App.4th 1155 (DCA 6)
[Review was granted on February 26, 1997, and the case decided on January 21, 1999. See Hubbart v. Superior Court (1999) 19 Cal.4th 1138]
[1.A.] [a.B.] [1.d.] [1.F.] Hubbart brought a writ of prohibition to stay all further proceedings against him under the Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA), Welfare and Institutions Code section 6600 et seq., on grounds that it violated ex post facto and double jeopardy protections as applied and on its face violates the equal protection and due process clauses. The court found the statute facially constitutional and constitutional as applied. First, it found the purpose of the statute was not penal, and rejected the deterrent purpose formula as making the statute penal. Second, the court found the purpose of the statute was to give treatment, and even though the statute acknowledges that treatment may not be successful, that does not mean that the purpose is not to give treatment, citing People v. Superior Court (Cain) (1996) 49 Cal.App.4th 1164 and Garcetti v. Superior Court (Rasmuson) (1996) 49 Cal.App.4th 1533. The court found the statute did not violate equal protection because the SVPA requires a finding of a currently diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to others in that it is likely that she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior, which is similar to findings required under LPS and MDO Acts. The substantive due process claim that the SVPA allows for an indefinite restraint on liberty without the requisite degree of proof that a person is both mentally ill and presently dangerous, without providing adequate and effective treatment, was also rejected.

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