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California: Sexually Violent Predators May be Conditionally Released from Custody Even if Homeless

California: Sexually Violent Predators May be Conditionally Released from Custody Even if Homeless


by Michael Brodheim


The California Court of Appeal, Third District, has held that a person committed as a sexually violent predator (SVP) may be conditionally released into the community even if he or she has no fixed residence.

In October 2010, the Placer County Superior Court determined that Tibor Karsai, who had been committed as an SVP in 1998, would pose no danger to others under outpatient supervision and treatment in the community, and that he therefore should be conditionally released. A year and a half later, despite the fact that an acceptable residence for Karsai had not been found, the court ordered his release.

Arguing that no provision of law permits an SVP to be released as a transient without a fixed residence, the District Attorney sought a writ of mandate to prevent Karsai’s release. The Court of Appeal rejected that argument, however, concluding that “nothing in the law forbids conditional release of an SVP as a transient.” To hold otherwise, the appellate court wrote, would raise serious constitutional concerns.

Once a trial court determines that an SVP would not pose a danger to others – if under supervision and treatment in the community, as required by statute – the SVP “unquestionably has a significant liberty interest in being released.” Delaying that release due to lack of post-release housing “would run the risk that a person who is no longer dangerous will nonetheless have to remain in custody in a secure facility indefinitely simply because of some extraneous factor, such as public outrage, that interferes with finding and securing a fixed residence for that person,” the Court of Appeal wrote. See: People v. Superior Court (Karsai), 213 Cal. App. 4th 774 (Cal. App. 3d Dist. 2013), review denied.



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Related legal case

People v. Superior Court (Karsai)