People v. Carroll, F051709.

CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtArdaiz
Citation158 Cal.App.4th 503,69 Cal.Rptr.3d 816
PartiesThe PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Ronald James CARROLL, Defendant and Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. F051709.,F051709.
Decision Date27 December 2007
69 Cal.Rptr.3d 816
158 Cal.App.4th 503
The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
Ronald James CARROLL, Defendant and Appellant.
No. F051709.
Court of Appeal, Fifth District.
December 27, 2007.
As Modified January 17, 2008.

[69 Cal.Rptr.3d 818]

Cynthia A. Thomas, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, Sacramento, for Defendant and Appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Julie A. Hokans, Susan Rankin Bunting, and Lewis Martinez, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.



Ronald James Carroll appeals from an order extending his commitment to the state Department of Mental Health (DMH) as a sexually violent predator (SVP), pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predators Act (SVPA; Welf. & Inst.Code, § 6600 et seq.).1 In this opinion, we address his claim that sections 6604 and 6604.1, as amended effective September 20, 2006, to provide for an indeterminate term of commitment as opposed to the two-year extensions to which Carroll previously was subject, could not properly be applied to him; hence, his recommitment must be reduced to a two-year term. For the reasons that follow, we conclude Carroll was properly committed for an indeterminate term and, accordingly, we affirm.


Carroll was convicted of rape in 1970 and forcible oral copulation in 1978. He was first committed to the DMH as an SVP in May 2000. Two-year extensions followed, and the instant petition to extend his commitment was filed on March 20, 2006. In pertinent part, the petition alleged that Carroll continued to be an SVP, and so his commitment should be extended for two years pursuant to section 6604.

At the time the present petition was filed, section 6604 provided, in pertinent part: "If the court or jury determines that the person is a sexually violent predator, the person shall be committed for two years to the custody of the State Department

69 Cal.Rptr.3d 819

of Mental Health for appropriate treatment and confinement ..., and the person shall not be kept in actual custody longer than two years unless a subsequent extended commitment is obtained from the court incident to the filing of a petition for extended commitment under this article...." Subdivision (a) of section 6604.1 provided that the initial two-year term of commitment was to commence on the date upon which the court issued the order of commitment, and that "[f]or any subsequent extended commitments, the term of commitment shall be for two years commencing from the date of the termination of the previous commitment." Subdivision (b) of the statute set out who was to evaluate the person, and also which statutory provisions applied to extended commitment evaluations and proceedings.

Effective September 20, 2006, these and other statutes were amended by Senate Bill No. 1128 (Stats.2006, ch. 337, §§ 55-56; hereafter SB 1128). Section 6604 thereafter provided, in pertinent part: "If the court or jury determines that the person is a sexually violent predator, the person shall be committed for an indeterminate term to the custody of the State Department of Mental Health for appropriate treatment and confinement...." Subdivision (a) of section 6604.1 provided: "The indeterminate term of commitment provided for in Section 6604 shall commence on the date upon which the court issues the initial order of commitment pursuant to that section." Subdivision (b) of the statute contained no express reference to extended commitments, but instead designated which statutory provisions applied to evaluations performed in the event the DMH had reason to believe the committed person was no longer an SVP, and to all commitment proceedings.

Trial on the instant petition took place on November 7, 2006. In his trial brief filed that same day, the prosecutor noted that section 6604 now provided for commitment for an indeterminate term. At the outset of trial, he requested that the court strike the language in the petition that referred to two years. When asked if he had any objection, defense counsel replied, "I'll submit it to the Court, Your Honor." The court then ruled that, in light of the law as it then existed, the commitment would be for an indeterminate term if the petition were found to be true. Following a court trial, Carroll again was found to be an SVP and was recommitted to the DMH for an indeterminate term.


Carroll raises several challenges to the trial court's extension of his commitment for an indeterminate term. We address each in turn.2

69 Cal.Rptr.3d 820

Carroll contends that SB 1128's amendments to sections 6604 and 6604.1 left intact the procedures to be utilized for an initial commitment, but, by omitting any express provision for the filing of a petition or proceedings to extend a commitment, rendered the trial court without authority to extend Carroll's existing commitment term. Carroll says the history of SB 1128 and legislative intent to create what he terms harsher penalties for those committed under the SVPA render unpersuasive an argument that the trial court thus lacked authority to proceed with the recommitment proceedings at all, thereby entitling Carroll to unconditional release, but argues that the law in effect at the time the petition was filed should control, and so the trial court was authorized to recommit him only for a two-year, not an indeterminate, term. Respondent contends Carroll was properly recommitted for an indeterminate term because SB 1128's amendments apply to all SVP commitments imposed after the effective date of that legislation.3

We agree with respondent. As explained in People v. Munoz (2005) 129 Cal.App.4th 421, 28 Cal.Rptr.3d 295, "an SVP extension hearing is not a review hearing. It is not the mere continuation of an earlier proceeding .... An SVP extension hearing is a new and independent proceeding at which, with limited exceptions, the petitioner must prove the defendant meets the [SVP] criteria, including that he or she has a currently diagnosed mental disorder that renders the person dangerous, [¶] The process necessary for initially declaring a prisoner an SVP is an involved and demanding one.... [¶] ... [¶] These same demanding procedures, including new evaluations, preliminary review by the trial court, preliminary hearing and trial, must be complied with in extending an SVP commitment. [Citations.] [¶] This requirement for what is essentially a new determination of SVP status ... arises from the logical and constitutional requirement that any SVP commitment be based on a currently diagnosed mental disorder which makes it likely the person will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior. This requirement of currency requires evaluations done near the time of the recommitment and a new determination by a trier of fact that the defendant is an SVP. [Citations.]" (Id. at pp. 429-430, 28 Cal. Rptr.3d 295, original italics omitted, italics added; see also Butler v. Superior Court (2000) 78 Cal.App.4th 1171, 1179-1180, 93 Cal.Rptr.2d 468.)

Since an SVP extension proceeding requires, essentially, that SVP status be determined anew, it follows that the provisions of sections 6604 and 6604.1, as

69 Cal.Rptr.3d 821

amended by SB 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.

"`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.' [Citations.]" (People v. Jeffers (1987) 43 Cal.3d 984, 993, 239 Cal.Rptr. 886, 741 P.2d 1127.) "In order to determine this intent, we begin by examining the language of the statute. [Citations.] But `[i]t 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.' [Citations.] Thus, `[t]he intent prevails over the letter, and the letter will, if possible, be so read as to conform to the spirit of the act.' [Citation.] 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.' [Citation.]" (People v. Pieters (1991) 52 Cal.3d 894, 898-899, 276 Cal.Rptr. 918, 802 P.2d 420.)

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. (People v. Ward (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 631, 636, 118 Cal.Rptr.2d 599.) SB 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 SB 1128's amendments to sections 6604 and 6604.1, which was to enhance, not restrict, confinement of persons determined to be SVP's. (People v. Shields (2007) 155 Cal. App.4th 559, 563, 65 Cal.Rptr.3d 922.) 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. (Ibid.) 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. (People v. Guzman (2005) 35 Cal.4th 577, 587, 25 Cal.Rptr.3d 761,...

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