Sexually Violent Predator Law & Legal Definition


SVP or Sexually violent predator is a person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense. An SVP must be diagnosed with a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others if not confined in a secure facility.

Example of a state statute on SVP

In California, Welfare and Insitution Code, Article 4 deals with sexually violent predators.

Section 6600 of Cal Wel & Inst Code defines an SVP as follows: "Sexually violent predator" means a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense against one or more victims and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior.

The relevant Section reads as follows:

Cal Wel & Inst Code § 6600 Definitions

As used in this article, the following terms have the following meanings:

(a)

(1) "Sexually violent predator" means a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense against one or more victims and who has a diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior.

(2) For purposes of this subdivision any of the following shall be considered a conviction for a sexually violent offense:

(A) A prior or current conviction that resulted in a determinate prison sentence for an offense described in subdivision (b).

(B) A conviction for an offense described in subdivision (b) that was committed prior to July 1, 1977, and that resulted in an indeterminate prison sentence.

(C) A prior conviction in another jurisdiction for an offense that includes all of the elements of an offense described in subdivision (b).

(D) A conviction for an offense under a predecessor statute that includes all of the elements of an offense described in subdivision (b).

(E) A prior conviction for which the inmate received a grant of probation for an offense described in subdivision (b).

(F) A prior finding of not guilty by reason of insanity for an offense described in subdivision (b).

(G) A conviction resulting in a finding that the person was a mentally disordered sex offender.

(H) A prior conviction for an offense described in subdivision (b) for which the person was committed to the Department of the Youth Authority pursuant to Section 1731.5.

(I) A prior conviction for an offense described in subdivision (b) that resulted in an indeterminate prison sentence.

(3) Conviction of one or more of the crimes enumerated in this section shall constitute evidence that may support a court or jury determination that a person is a sexually violent predator, but shall not be the sole basis for the determination. The existence of any prior convictions may be shown with documentary evidence. The details underlying the commission of an offense that led to a prior conviction, including a predatory relationship with the victim, may be shown by documentary evidence, including, but not limited to, preliminary hearing transcripts, trial transcripts, probation and sentencing reports, and evaluations by the State Department of Mental Health. Jurors shall be admonished that they may not find a person a sexually violent predator based on prior offenses absent relevant evidence of a currently diagnosed mental disorder that makes the person a danger to the health and safety of others in that it is likely that he or she will engage in sexually violent criminal behavior.

(4) The provisions of this section shall apply to any person against whom proceedings were initiated for commitment as a sexually violent predator on or after January 1, 1996.

(b) "Sexually violent offense" means the following acts when committed by force, violence, duress, menace, fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person, or threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim or any other person, and that are committed on, before, or after the effective date of this article and result in a conviction or a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity, as defined in subdivision (a): a felony violation of Section 261, 262, 264.1, 269, 286, 288, 288a, 288.5, or 289 of the Penal Code, or any felony violation of Section 207, 209, or 220 of the Penal Code, committed with the intent to commit a violation of Section 261, 262, 264.1, 286, 288, 288a, or 289 of the Penal Code.

(c) "Diagnosed mental disorder" includes a congenital or acquired condition affecting the emotional or volitional capacity that predisposes the person to the commission of criminal sexual acts in a degree constituting the person a menace to the health and safety of others.

(d) "Danger to the health and safety of others" does not require proof of a recent overt act while the offender is in custody.

(e) "Predatory" means an act is directed toward a stranger, a person of casual acquaintance with whom no substantial relationship exists, or an individual with whom a relationship has been established or promoted for the primary purpose of victimization.

(f) "Recent overt act" means any criminal act that manifests a likelihood that the actor may engage in sexually violent predatory criminal behavior.

(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of law and for purposes of this section, a prior juvenile adjudication of a sexually violent offense may constitute a prior conviction for which the person received a determinate term if all of the following apply:

(1) The juvenile was 16 years of age or older at the time he or she committed the prior offense.
(2) The prior offense is a sexually violent offense as specified in subdivision (b).
(3) The juvenile was adjudged a ward of the juvenile court within the meaning of Section 602 because of the person's commission of the offense giving rise to the juvenile court adjudication.
(4) The juvenile was committed to the Department of the Youth Authority for the sexually violent offense.

(h) A minor adjudged a ward of the court for commission of an offense that is defined as a sexually violent offense shall be entitled to specific treatment as a sexual offender. The failure of a minor to receive that treatment shall not constitute a defense or bar to a determination that any person is a sexually violent predator within the meaning of this article.