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In Re Troy Belcher, WSSC #93900-4

On May 15, 2017 WACDL filed a joint amicus brief with WDA on the issue of whether civil commitment of an individual under RCW 71.09 as a sexually violent predator violates due process when based solely on a juvenile offense.

Court

Petition for Discretionary Review to WSSC from COA decision dated October 4, 2016 and order published on November 22, 2016.

Ruling

WSSC issued its ruling on August 17,2017 holding that use of a juvenile conviction as a predicate offense for continued commitment as an SVP, which has the potential to permanently confine a person for a juvenile offense, does not violate due process because of the robust commitment procedure which confines individuals only so long as they are a danger to society. The court also drew a distinction between the SVP commitment procedure as being civil as opposed to criminal incarceration.

The court held further that a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is sufficient to support a finding of mental abnormality under the statute and that the use of an actuarial tool, the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide-Revised (VRAG-R), which is predicated on both sexual and nonsexual acts does not violate due process when applied to a sexually violent offender.

Issue

Whether conduct as a juvenile as the basis for indefinite civil commitment under RCW 71.09 violates due process.

WACDL Amicus

It is undisputed that Mr. Belcher has not committed a sexually dangerous act as an adult, was confined in 2011 and faces continued deprivation of liberty under RCW 71.09 even after release from confinement. Because juvenile brains are not fully developed it violated due process to use juvenile offending, and nothing more, as a basis for detention under RCW 71.09. Due precess requires the state to produce evidence of adult sexual misconduct before an individual may be subjected to the protracted confinement of RCW 71.09.

WACDL Amicus Author

Amy Muth

Appellate Authors

Travis Stearns

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