Sexual Predator Laws in California
In California there are special post-incarceration proceedings for those determined to be sexually violent predators. Typically, when inmates are released from prison, the state will place them on parole.
Depending on each individual’s case, parole eligibility and the length of parole is different. When an inmate convicted of a sex crime is suspected of being a sexually violent predator he or she, upon release of prison, must undergo a special parole proceeding to determine their reentry into society.
A sexually violent predator is an individual who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense against one or more victims and who has been diagnosed with a mental disorder making them dangerous to the health and safety of others due to a likelihood of engaging in sexually violent criminal behavior.
Although a sexually violent offense includes various sex crimes, not all registered sex offenders are sexually violent predators. Sexually violent predators undergo a separate parole eligibility hearing and they are often identified while incarcerated.
Determining Sexual Violent Predator Status
The California Board of Parole Hearings evaluates inmates who have been convicted of a sexually violent offense to determine whether they are sexually violent predators who should undergo the separate parole hearing.
The Board’s evaluation typically occurs six months prior to the inmate’s release from prison. If the Board suspects an inmate as a sexually violent predator, they refer the inmate for further screening to determine if the inmate meets the definition of a sexually violent predator with the California Department of Mental Health’s Sex Offender Commitment Program Evaluation Unit.
If an inmate is determined to be a sexually violent predator according to the Department’s screening, the inmate is then scheduled for an independent psychological evaluation. This psychological evaluation is made to determine whether the individual has a diagnosed mental disorder and if so, whether that disorder makes it likely that the individual will commit another sexually violent act when released from prison.
Depending on the psychological evaluation determination, the inmate may be released to parole or the case may be referred for commitment proceedings. If the inmate is determined a sexually violent predator, his or her case is referred for sexually violent predator commitment proceedings.
As with regular criminal proceedings, a judge or jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the inmate is a sexually violent predator. If they determine that the inmate is a sexually violent predator, then the inmate is committed to the Department of Mental Health.
In California, parole begins immediately upon release of an inmate from prison. However, if an inmate is determined to be a sexually violent predator and committed to a state hospital post incarceration then his or her parole is tolled (suspended) until he or she is no longer considered a sexually violent predator.
Consult an Experienced Attorney
If an inmate is committed as a sexually violent predator, the state conducts annual reviews of the case. The individual may also petition the court for review of the case to review whether the individual is still considered a sexually violent predator and whether or not he or she should be released.
If you or a loved one is under investigation or charged with a sex crime, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to assist you. While being accused of a sex crime is both humiliating and horrifying, being found guilty of a sex crime will have catastrophic consequences for you, your family, and your future.