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Civil Commitment Unit

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The civil commitment unit consists of experienced lawyers dedicated to defending sexually violent predators, mentally disordered offenders and not guilty by reason of insanity commitments. If you or a loved one is facing an involuntary civil commitment, please feel free to call us at 510-272-6655.

The MDO (“Mentally Disordered Offender”) Act allows for an individual to be committed to a state mental hospital after their prison or parole sentence is complete. Each commitment is for a period of one year. Three factors must be proven to commit an individual under this law; it must be shown that: 1) they have a “severe mental disorder,” 2) the “disorder was one of the causes or was an aggravating factor in the commission of the crime,” and 3) the crime involved the use of force or violence. (Penal Code section 2962.)

Individuals who have been found NGI (“Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity”) of criminal acts are committed to the Department of State Hospitals. Their term of commitment depends on the underlying crime. If they were found NGI for a crime which does not carry a life sentence, they have a right to a hearing every two years after the maximum term of commitment. (Penal Code sections 1026 & 1026.5) All NGI’s have the right to petition for a restoration of sanity. (Penal Code section 1026.2)

The SVP (“Sexually Violent Predator”) Act allows for an individual to be committed to a state mental hospital after their prison or parole sentence for an indeterminate term. Enacted in 1996 and as amended in 2006, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is required to screen every inmate who has ever been convicted, whenever they are in prison on any offense or parole violation, to determine if they qualify for SVP commitment. Most individuals committed under this act have been convicted of rape, sexual assault or child molestation and have a diagnosed mental disorder which makes it likely that they will reoffend. (Welfare & Institutions Code section 6600.)

DISCLAIMER: This site is meant to provide information of a general nature which you should verify with an attorney before relying upon it. It does not provide legal advice and is not meant to establish an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice you should ALWAYS contact an attorney.

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Alameda County
Public Defender

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