Victims Hearsay In Sexually Violent Offenses In California

In People v. Superior Court (Howard) (1999) 70 Cal. App. 4th 136, 140 (hereinafter Howard), the Sixth District Court of Appeal held that the Sexually Violent Predators Act "expressly allows the People to prove that a defendant has committed sexually violent offenses through hearsay evidence, including victim hearsay statements contained in probation reports." Howard addressed the issue in the context of the probable cause hearing. The court relied on the plain language of Welfare and Institutions Code, section 6600, subdivision (a), to support its conclusion. That section states in pertinent part: "The details underlying the commission of an offense that led to a prior conviction, including a predatory relationship with the victim, may be shown by documentary evidence, including, but not limited to, preliminary hearing transcripts, trial transcripts, probation and sentencing reports, and evaluations by the State Department of Mental Health."