No such proceeding

10/01/2020, Legislation, Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

There is a right to counsel in "sexual psychopath" commitments at every stage of the proceeding under D.C. Code § 22-3805, and for any hearings a judge deems necessary for registration requirements. D.C. Code § 22- 4004(c)(1).


However, in 2020, the D.C. Court of Appeals held that the Sexual Psychopath Act (SPA), D.C. Code § 22-3803 et seq., is facially unconstituional under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:


The SPA provides for the involuntary, indefinite civil confinement in a mental institution of persons who are “not insane” but are thought to be too dangerous to remain at large based on their “course of repeated misconduct in sexual matters.” ... we conclude that the SPA is unconstitutional on its face for the reason that it requires no finding in any case of a mental disease, disorder, or abnormality causing such serious impairment of sex offenders’ ability to control their behavior...


Tilley v. United States, 238 A.3d 961, 964 (D.C. 2020).  The Tilley court "conclude[d] that the SPA 'contain[s] a constitutional infirmity that invalidates the statute in its entirety' – it 'fails to require the government to prove everything the Constitution requires it to prove for [civil commitment] to be imposed.'" Id. at 978 [quoting Conley v. United States, 79 A.3d 270, 277 (D.C. 2013) (internal quotation marks and footnotes omitted)].  The court left it to the legislature to "save" the SPA.