svpa compendium


Year 2002
California Court of Appeal

People v. Edmonton (C036988 11/6/02)
103 Cal.App.4th 557
Subsequent history: Rev. granted 1/22/03 (S112168)
[3.c.3.] The prosecution did not rely on a legally insufficient theory to prove the duress element required for a forcible offense under the Sexually Violent Predator Act. The Third District disagreed with the analysis of People v. Valentine (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 1241 that the legislative revision to the rape statute which deleted "hardship" from the definition of duress also should be applied to the duress requirement of the SVPA. The Third District thought the statute was clear on its face, and that the Legislature could have good reason to retain the "hardship" portion of the definition of duress in other criminal statutes governing sexual crimes.


Cheek v. Superior Court of Santa Cruz (H024218 11/5/02)
103 Cal.App.4th 520
[3.a.] Appellant was committed to state prison for convictions of sexual offenses in three different counties. Under Welfare and Institutions Code section 6601, subdivision (i), each of those three counties qualified as the county from which he was committed and thus any of the three had jurisdiction over his later Sexually Violent Predator Act proceeding.


People v. Burris (E029416 10/10/2002)
102 Cal.App.4th 1096
[3.c.] Appellant challenged the sufficiency of evidence to support the order which committed him to Atascadero as a sexually violent predator, arguing that if there was sufficient evidence, it was only because his attorney elicited the evidence during cross-examination, and therefore he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The appellate court here found that there was sufficient evidence. Even without the expert testimony, appellant's record showed a lack of control. The expert witnesses' testimony on direct examination established that the lack of control was due to a diagnosed mental disorder. The court therefore did not need to consider the ineffective assistance of counsel issue.


People v. Scott (H022812 8/1/2002)
100 Cal.App.4th 1060
[3.a.] The testimony of only one expert witness, not two, may support a conclusion that the defendant is a sexually violent predator.


People v. Wollschlager (B145828 7/8/2002)
99 Cal.App.4th 1303
Subsequent history: Rev. granted 10/16/02 (S109223) with briefing deferred pending Williams (S107266); Rehrg. den. 8/6/02
[6.] The language of the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA) as stated in CALJIC No. 4.19 meets the constitutional requirements of Kansas v. Crane (2002) 534 U.S. 407. A finding that a defendant qualifies as a sexually violent predator under the statute necessarily means the defendant has serious difficulty in controlling his behavior.


People v. Carmony (C035540 6/13/02)
99 Cal.App.4th 317
Subsequent history: Review den. 8/28/02
[1.a.] [1.f.] Two months before the defendant's scheduled release on parole, the district attorney filed a petition to commit him as an SVP. The defendant allegged that a 1982 determination that he was not MDSO barred relitigation of the issue of his mental health under the SVPA. The appellate court rejected that contention, finding that the purposes of the MDSO differ from those of the SVPA, and additionally finding that the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel are not generally considered constitutional rules, noting that the Legislature may abrogate them at any time, as it implicitly did with the SVPA. Finally, the court held that the defendant was not denied due process of law when transferred from prison to a state mental hospital for SVP evaluation. The court finds that nothing in the SVPA's provisions suggests the Legislature intended to require notice or representation by counsel before an SVP petition is requested or filed.


People v. Williams (5/20/2002)
98 Cal.App.4th 642 (DCA 4, Div. 2)
Subsequent history: Rev. granted 7/17/2002 (S107266). See cases Pending, page 1.]
[6.] A jury found that appellant was a sexually violent predator (SVP), and the court ordered him committed to Atascadero for two years. On appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in refusing to instruct the jury, pursuant to his request, that his mental disorder must render him unable to control his dangerous behavior. The appellate court here affirmed. Commitment under the SVPA requires both two qualifying convictions and a diagnosable mental disorder which renders the offender dangerous. It does not require that the People affirmatively prove that an alleged SVP is incapable of controlling his behavior. The language of the statute presumes a serious difficulty in controlling behavior, because a person could not become dangerous if he could control his behavior. Therefore, the jury was adequately instructed and the trial court did not err by refusing the requested instruction. Further, any error would have been harmless given the evidence.


People v. Torres (C035827 5/7/2002)
98 Cal.App.4th 205 (DCA 3)
Subsequent history: Rev. granted 7/17/02 (S107385); case depublished / not citable; rev. dismissed on 12/11/02 and remanded.
[4.][5.C.] [6.] The trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury that in order to find that appellant met the criteria for recommitment under the Sexually Violent Predator's Act (SVPA), ithad to find that he was likely to engage in sexually violent predatory criminal behavior. However, the error was harmless based on the record. Predatory acts under the SVPA are acts which are directed toward a stranger, a casual acquaintance, or an individual with whom a relationship has been established for the purpose of victimization. All of the offenses of which appellant was convicted fit this definition. It was not reasonably possible that had the jury been instructed properly, it would have found him likely to commit future sexually violent offenses but unlikely to commit predatory offenses.


People v. Ward (4/12/2002)
97 Cal.App.4th 631 (DCA 4, Div. 2)
Subsequent history: Rev. denied 6/19/02 (S106780)
[2.a.] The trial court did not lose jurisdiction in a sexually violent predator case (Welf. and Inst. Code sec. 6601 et seq.) when it dismissed a first petition because it was supported by only one, and not two, psychological evaluations. First, a second petition (supported by two evaluations) was filed before the initial commitment expired. Second, Welfare and Institutions Code section 6601, subdivision (a), effective January 1, 1996 provides that a petition shall not be dismissed based on a later determination that the person's custody was unlawful, if it was the result of a good faith mistake of law or fact. The court found People v. Superior Court (Gary) (2000) 85 Cal.App.4th 207 factually distinguishable, since there the two evaluations disfavored commitment.


Gray v. Superior Court (1/16/2002)
95 Cal.App.4th 322 (DCA 4, Div. 2)
Subsequent history: Rev. denied 4/10/2002 (S104749)
[2.B.] [7.] In his habeas petition, appellant sought to compel dismissal of sexually violent predator (SVP) proceedings against him because recent psychological evaluations reflected a difference of expert opinion on whether he met the statutory SVP criteria. Although the statute is clear that a petition can only be filed where both evaluators agree that the inmate meets the criteria, the statute is not clear where a further set of evaluations is required because an update or replacement results in a split of opinion. Here, the original petition was filed based on the evaluations of two experts who agreed that appellant fit the criteria. Several years later, prior to trial, when one of the evaluators became unavailable, three new evaluations were ordered. Two of the evaluators concluded that appellant did not meet the criteria, creating the split of opinion. The appellate court denied the petition. The fact that the statute is silent as to the remedy for this situation does not reflect a legislative intent for dismissal. Once a petition has been filed and probable cause exists, the matter should then proceed to trial. The question of whether a person is an SVP should then be left to the trier of fact.

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