Senate Bill 1128 California

In People v. Carroll (2007) 158 Cal.App.4th 503, the defendant, Carroll, argued that by omitting any express provision for the filing of a petition or proceedings to extend a commitment, Senate Bill 1128 did not authorize the trial court to extend his existing commitment term, and that the trial court could recommit him to a two-year term only. (Carroll, at p. 508.) The People contended that Carroll was properly recommitted for an indeterminate term because Senate Bill 1128's amendments applied to all SVP commitments imposed after the effective date of that legislation. (Carroll, at p. 508.) The Fifth District noted that an extension hearing, rather than constituting a review proceeding, "requires, essentially, that SVP status be determined anew." (Carroll, supra, 158 Cal.App.4th at p. 509.) Therefore, "it follows that the provisions of section 6604 and 6604.1, as amended by Senate Bill 1128, apply to all SVP commitment proceedings. This is so regardless of whether they expressly refer to extensions, and even though section 6604.1, subdivision (a) provides that the indeterminate term is to commence on the date the trial court issues the initial order of commitment pursuant to section 6604." (Ibid.) The court explained: "'"When questions as to the applicability or interpretation of statutes are presented to this court, numerous cases have recognized that the controlling issue is the intent of the Legislature.'In order to determine this intent, we begin by examining the language of the statute. But "it is a settled principle of statutory interpretation that language of a statute should not be given a literal meaning if doing so would result in absurd consequences which the Legislature did not intend." Thus, "the intent prevails over the letter, and the letter will, if possible, be so read as to conform to the spirit of the act." Finally, we do not construe statutes in isolation, but rather read every statute "with reference to the entire scheme of law of which it is part so that the whole may be harmonized and retain effectiveness."' "The overall purposes of the SVPA are to protect the public from a select group of extremely dangerous offenders and to provide treatment for those people. Senate Bill 1128 was aimed at preventing future victimization. (See Historical and Statutory Notes, 36E West's Ann. Gov. Code (2007 supp.) foll. 68152, p. 104.) Carroll's interpretation runs contrary to the obvious intent of Senate Bill 1128's amendments to sections 6604 and 6604.1, which was to enhance, not restrict, confinement of persons determined to be SVP's. By changing SVP terms from two years to an indeterminate period of time, the Legislature unequivocally conveyed an intent to continue the confinement of persons adjudicated to be SVP's. Even assuming Carroll's argument finds some support in the plain language of the statutes, it fails because it would result in absurd consequences the Legislature clearly did not intend, and statutory provisions may be added by implication when doing so is compelled by necessity and supported by solid evidence of the drafters' true intent. "Based on the foregoing principles and the indisputable intent of the Legislature to continue the confinement of SVP's for an indeterminate term, we conclude the trial court was authorized to extend Carroll's commitment period beyond the two-year recommitment period in effect at the time the petition to extend Carroll's commitment was filed." (Carroll, supra, 158 Cal.App.4th at pp. 509-510.) In Carroll, supra, 158 Cal.App.4th at page 513, the court rejected Carroll's argument that extending his commitment for an indeterminate term was a retroactive application of Senate Bill 1128. The court held that what mattered was that the petition was amended, and the trial and commitment of Carroll occurred, after the indeterminate commitment provisions took effect. the court stated: "Given the manner in which the SVPA was drafted, so that an extension hearing is a new and independent proceeding that essentially requires a new determination of SVP status, application of Senate Bill 1128's provisions to Carroll did not change the legal consequences of past events or conduct. This is because 'the trial on any petition for commitment or recommitment must focus on the person's current mental condition.' 'The statute clearly requires the trier of fact to find that an SVP is dangerous at the time of commitment. the statutory criteria are expressed in the present tense, indicating that each must exist at the time the verdict is rendered. In addition, a person cannot be adjudged an SVP unless he "currently" suffers from a diagnosed mental disorder which prevents him from controlling sexually violent behavior, and which "makes" him dangerous and "likely" to reoffend. by defining the qualifying mental disorder in this fashion, the statute makes clear that it is the present inability to control sexually violent behavior which gives rise to the likelihood that more crimes will occur, and which makes the SVP dangerous if not confined.' "In light of the foregoing, the significant point with respect to retroactivity is not the filing of the petition, but trial and adjudication under the SVPA. the conduct or event (for want of a better term) to which the SVPA attaches legal consequences is the person's mental condition at the time of adjudication, not at the time the extension petition is filed." (Carroll, supra, 158 Cal.App.4th at pp. 513-514.)