WHAT IS A CIVIL COMMITMENT HEARING?
The State can petition to “civilly commit” someone who is almost done with his sentence and who was convicted of certain sex offenses. Those who are civilly committed are referred to as “sexually violent predators” (SVP).
Sex offenses that may trigger civil commitment include:
- aggravated sexual assault;
- sexual assault;
- aggravated criminal sexual contact;
- criminal sexual contact;
- certain forms of kidnapping and murder
Also, the State must prove that the individual suffers from a psychological disorder that causes the person to commit sexually violent acts warranting confinement.
CIVIL COMMITMENT PROCEDURE
First, there is a Probable Cause Hearing. During this hearing, the judge determines whether there is enough evidence to potentially classify someone as a sexually violent predator. The individual may have a lawyer represent him/her at this hearing. If the judge finds that there is probable cause, then the court issues a temporary order of commitment. This is not the final hearing.
Second, there is a Final Commitment Hearing. Finally, after receiving testimony and evidence, the trial court decides whether to involuntarily commit an individual. Again, the individual may retain a lawyer at this hearing. The judge must find by “clear and convincing evidence” that the individual is a sexually violent predator in need of civil commitment.
An attorney may also appeal decisions made at the Final Commitment Hearings.
REPRESENTATION AT ANNUAL REVIEW:
People who are civilly committed are entitled to annual reviews. During this review, the judge determines whether confinement is still necessary or whether to discharge the individual. The Court must find that the person is not likely to commit further acts of sexual violence before discharging him.
HOW OUR LAW FIRM CAN HELP:
Our firm has represented clients at preliminary and final commitment hearings. In addition to our firm’s experience in this area, our attorneys have professional relationships with several, highly esteemed expert psychologists who can play a vital role in challenging the State’s petition to civilly commit someone.
Moreover, our legal team includes individuals with a Doctoral (Psy.D.) background in forensic psychology. Thus, our firm provides unparalleled legal assistance, as we combine our knowledge of sex offense law with a deep understanding of the psychology of sex offending behavior.
Call Maynard Law Office, LLC today at 973-540-0054 to represent you or your loved one in SVP civil commitment proceedings!