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Washington State Not Required to Prove Current Dangerousness for Civil Commitment as Sexually Violent Predator

On October 1, 2009, the en banc Supreme Court of Washington ruled that the state was not required to prove a sex offender would reoffend within the foreseeable future to civilly commit him as a sexually violent predator (SVP) under 71.09 RCW.

In 1985, Paul Moore was convicted of first-degree rape with a deadly weapon and first degree robbery. Prior to trial, Moore's competency was placed in question and he spent 13 months in a mental hospital before being deemed competent and allowed to enter into a plea bargain for 75 months of incarceration. While incarcerated at the Special Offender Center in 1990, Moore was convicted of second degree attempted rape of a female counselor by forcible compulsion.
Following another competency evaluation and guilty plea, he was sentenced to 50 ½ months of incarceration. While incarcerated, Moore was charged with over 400 major disciplinary infractions, many of which were violent, directed against females and sexual in nature. He was criminally charged for four of them and only found incompetent to stand trial in one.

The state petitioned to have Moore civilly committed as a SVP. The court found Moore to be competent. The trial court held a bench trial which included a joint stipulation of evidence, including an evaluation by Moore's expert that he should be regularly committed, not committed as an SVP. The trial court committed Moore as an SVP. Moore appealed. The court of appeals affirmed. Moore sought review in the Supreme Court of Washington.

The en banc Washington Supreme Court held that due process does not require the state to prove Moore will reoffend within the foreseeable future to establish Moore's future dangerousness for purposes of SVP commitment. It also ruled that the joint stipulation did not violate Moore's due process rights as it did not stipulate that he was an SVP or had committed any of the offenses for which he had not been convicted and Moore's attorney was not ineffective for agreeing to the stipulation.

See: In re Detention of Moore, Washington Supreme Court, Case No. 81201-2

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Related legal case

In re Detention of Moore