2012 Connecticut General Statutes
Title 17a - Social and Human Services and Resources
Chapter 319i - Persons with Psychiatric Disabilities
Section 17a-593 - (Formerly Sec. 17-257n). Court order to discharge acquittee from custody.
(a) The board, pursuant to section 17a-584 or 17a-592, may recommend to the court the discharge of the acquittee from custody or the acquittee may apply directly to the court for discharge from custody. The court shall send copies of the recommendation or application to the state’s attorney and to counsel for the acquittee. An acquittee may apply for discharge not more than once every six months and no sooner than six months after the initial board hearing held pursuant to section 17a-583.
(b) The recommendation or application shall contain the dates on which any prior recommendations or applications for discharge had been filed with the court, the dates on which decisions thereon were rendered, and a statement of facts, including any change in circumstances since the determination on the most recent recommendation or application, sufficient to qualify the acquittee as a person who should be discharged. A recommendation by the board shall contain findings and conclusions to support the recommendation.
(c) If reasonable cause exists to believe that the acquittee remains a person with psychiatric disabilities or a person with intellectual disability to the extent that his discharge at the expiration of his maximum term of commitment would constitute a danger to himself or others, the state’s attorney, at least one hundred thirty-five days prior to such expiration, may petition the court for an order of continued commitment of the acquittee.
(d) The court shall forward any application for discharge received from the acquittee and any petition for continued commitment of the acquittee to the board. The board shall, within ninety days of its receipt of the application or petition, file a report with the court, and send a copy thereof to the state’s attorney and counsel for the acquittee, setting forth its findings and conclusions as to whether the acquittee is a person who should be discharged. The board may hold a hearing or take other action appropriate to assist it in preparing its report.
(e) Within ten days of receipt of a recommendation for discharge filed by the board under subsection (a) of this section or receipt of the board’s report filed under subsection (d) of this section, either the state’s attorney or counsel for the acquittee may file notice of intent to perform a separate examination of the acquittee. An examination conducted on behalf of the acquittee may be performed by a psychiatrist or psychologist of the acquittee’s own choice and shall be performed at the expense of the acquittee unless he is indigent. If the acquittee is indigent, the court shall provide him with the services of a psychiatrist or psychologist to perform the examination at the expense of the state. Any such separate examination report shall be filed with the court within thirty days of the notice of intent to perform the examination. To facilitate examinations of the acquittee, the court may order him placed in the temporary custody of any hospital for psychiatric disabilities or other suitable facility or placed with the Commissioner of Developmental Services.
(f) After receipt of the board’s report and any separate examination reports, the court shall promptly commence a hearing on the recommendation or application for discharge or petition for continued commitment. At the hearing, the acquittee shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the acquittee is a person who should be discharged.
(g) The court shall make a finding as to the mental condition of the acquittee and, considering that its primary concern is the protection of society, make one of the following orders: (1) If the court finds that the acquittee is not a person who should be discharged, the court shall order the recommendation or application for discharge be dismissed; or (2) if the court finds that the acquittee is a person who should be discharged, the court shall order the acquittee discharged from custody. The court shall send a copy of such finding and order to the board.
(P.A. 85-506, S. 14, 32; P.A. 86-403, S. 38, 132; P.A. 87-486, S. 9; P.A. 95-257, S. 48, 58; P.A. 07-73, S. 2(b); P.A. 11-129, S. 20.)
History: P.A. 86-403 made technical change in Subsec. (e); P.A. 87-486 replaced provisions authorizing board to “apply to the court for discharge of the acquittee” with provisions authorizing board to “recommend to the court the discharge of the acquittee” and added references to the board’s “recommendation” to reflect this procedural change, amended Subsec. (c) to add reference to an acquittee who is mentally retarded and to authorize the state’s attorney to petition the court for continued commitment at least 135, rather than 90, days prior to the commitment’s expiration, amended Subsec. (d) to require the board to file a report within 90, rather than 45, days of receiving an application or petition, amended Subsec. (e) to authorize the court to place the acquittee with the commissioner of mental retardation, amended Subsec. (f) to delete provision that the board has the burden of proof when it applies for an order of discharge, and amended Subsec. (g) to replace provision that “if the court finds that the acquittee is a person who should be confined, the court shall continue the initial order committing the acquittee to the jurisdiction of the board” with “if the court finds that the acquittee is not a person who should be discharged, the court shall order the recommendation or application for discharge be dismissed”; Sec. 17-257n transferred to Sec. 17a-593 in 1991; P.A. 95-257 replaced “mentally ill” and “mental illness” with varying phrases containing the words “psychiatric disabilities”, effective July 1, 1995; pursuant to P.A. 07-73 “Commissioner of Mental Retardation” was changed editorially by the Revisors to “Commissioner of Developmental Services”, effective October 1, 2007; pursuant to P.A. 11-129, “mentally retarded” was changed editorially by the Revisors to “a person with intellectual disability” in Subsec. (c).
Cited. 211 C. 591; 215 C. 675.
Cited. 12 CA 32; 15 CA 74; judgment reversed, see 211 C. 591; 20 CA 96.
Annotations to present section:
Cited. 230 C. 400. Meaning of “psychiatric disabilities” within definition of “person who should be discharged” is not governed by the standard in either Sec. 17a-495(c) or 17a-458(a) and trial court applied the correct standard, found in governing regulations, in its interpretation of the term; the determination of whether person is a danger to himself or others is a question of fact and is to be reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard; trial court’s finding that defendant suffered from a severe personality disorder and should therefore not be discharged did not violate defendant’s substantive due process rights. 265 C. 697. Trial court’s conclusions that Subsec. (c) violated defendant’s due process rights under Connecticut Constitution and state and federal equal protection rights present questions of law over which Supreme Court’s review is plenary. 268 C. 508.
Statute found not to be unconstitutionally vague; court rejected arguments that the lack of definition of “dangerous to himself and others” and burden of predicting future conduct made statute vague. 69 CA 666. Court may properly credit board’s opinions and rely on its findings; such findings are not inadmissible hearsay. 100 CA 407.
Section impliedly imposes same burden on the state at a hearing for continued commitment of an acquittee beyond his current definite period of commitment as is imposed in a civil commitment hearing under Sec. 17a-498(c). 230 C. 400. Subsec. neither affects a suspect group nor implicates a fundamental right for purposes of federal equal protection clause, and therefore must be analyzed under rational basis review. 268 C. 508.
Clearly erroneous standard applies to review of court’s findings as to whether an acquittee is currently mentally ill to the point of posing a danger to himself or community if discharged. 77 CA 564. Does not violate defendant’s constitutional rights to due process and equal protection of the laws. 92 CA 206.
Cited. 43 CA 592.
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