California Penal Code Section 1026.5 Commitment

Penal Code Section 1026.5 provides for the extended commitment to a state hospital of a defendant who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity pursuant to section 1026. The commitment may be extended only if the defendant's "mental disease, defect, or disorder represents a substantial danger of physical harm to others." ( 1026.5, subd. (b)(1).) In People v. Galindo (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 531, the Court of Appeal, Third District, accepted the Attorney General's concession that Penal Code section 1026.5, which provides for the extension of the commitment in a state hospital of a defendant found not guilty by reason of insanity, must be interpreted as requiring proof that the defendant has serious difficulty in controlling dangerous behavior in light of In re Howard N. (2005) 35 Cal.4th 117 (Howard N.). (Galindo, supra, 142 Cal.App.4th at p. 536.) The Court of Appeal in Galindo then addressed whether the trial court's failure to consider the issue of control was prejudicial. The Court of Appeal emphasized that "neither the parties, nor the witnesses, nor the trial court had the opportunity to consider the control issue." (Id. at p. 539.) In the absence of expert testimony on the issue, the Court of Appeal examined the record to determine whether there was another form of proof, such as evidence the defendant had "tried to control his behavior" but had "encountered serious difficulty when trying to do so . . . ." (Galindo, supra, 142 Cal.App.4th at p. 539.) After determining that even the alternate form of proof was insufficient, the Court of Appeal held that the omission of the control issue was not harmless. (Ibid.) In Howard N., the California Supreme Court held that the extended detention scheme in Welfare and Institutions Code section 1800 et seq. "should be interpreted to contain a requirement of serious difficulty in controlling dangerous behavior" in order to preserve its constitutionality. (Howard N., supra, 35 Cal.4th at p. 132.)