Post details: Cal.4: Exclusionary rule does not apply in sexually violent predator proceedings

03/03/13

Permalink 08:10:53 am, by fourth, 598 words, 745 views   English (US)
Categories: General

Cal.4: Exclusionary rule does not apply in sexually violent predator proceedings

The exclusionary rule does not apply in SVP proceedings. Here, the DA acquired boxes of information about the defendant years after the conviction and even proceeded in court for authority to open the boxes and whether defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy. This is not a criminal proceeding, and the need to deter is gone. People v. Landau, 214 Cal. App. 4th 1, 154 Cal. Rptr. 3d 1 (4th Dist. 2013):

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Proof of a prior conviction for sexually violent offense may be shown by documentary evidence, i.e., court and prison records. (§ 6600, subd. (a)(3).) Proof of the predatory nature of the offense is often established by live testimony from those who were victims of or witnesses to the prior incident(s) from years before. For example, in the present case, the appellant's victims testified to incidents from as far back as 1969. We perceive no incentive here for the district attorney or any other law enforcement agency to engage in acts violating the Fourth Amendment as a means of acquiring such evidence years or even decades after the facts are already known to law enforcement. Additionally, the parties have not cited, and we have not found, any SVP case where an alleged SVP claims his Fourth Amendment rights were violated during the pendency of the SVPA proceedings. The lack of any other case lends weight to the proposition that, like conservatorship proceedings, SVP cases do not present a compelling need for an additional deterrent to unlawful searches or seizures over and above exclusion in a criminal prosecution.

As already noted, law enforcement officers looking to uncover undetected crimes of an alleged SVP know that should the evidence be obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the evidence and its fruits will be excluded in a criminal trial. That deterrent being present, we conclude the social cost of excluding the same evidence in an SVPA proceeding — exclusion of reliable evidence and exposure of the public to the acts of individuals who suffer from a mental disability, the existence of which adversely affects the person's volitional ability and predisposes the person to committing sexual acts against others, making him or her a danger to the health and safety of others — is not outweighed by the minimal beneficial effect that would result from excluding evidence in an SVPA proceeding. (See Susan T., supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 1017, fn 9 [listing civil settings where benefit of exclusion outweighed by cost of exclusion].) Accordingly, the superior court did not err in failing to exclude evidence claimed to have been obtained in violation of appellant's Fourth Amendment rights.

In Susan T., the court stated that "[w]hether the exclusionary rule bars the admission of evidence in a civil proceeding depends, first on the existence of a search or seizure that violates the protections of the Fourth Amendment of the federal Constitution." (Susan T., supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 1012.) We do not take this statement to mean a court must first decide whether there has been a violation of the Fourth Amendment and only then decide whether the exclusionary rule applies in a civil proceeding. Such an interpretation would require a court conducting a conservatorship hearing to first determine whether there had been a Fourth Amendment violation before deciding, in conformance with Susan T., that the exclusionary rule does not apply in conservatorship proceedings. Having concluded the exclusionary rule is not required in SVPA proceedings, we do not engage in what could only be a useless exercise in determining whether the evidence that cannot be excluded, assuming a Fourth Amendment violation, was in fact obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

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