Trial court complied with statutory criteria for ordering inpatient hospitalization vs. conditional release of NGI acquittee

Bates v. Com., 287 Va. 58, 752 S.E.2d 846 (2014)

After being found not guilty by reason of insanity on a charge of arson pursuant to Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-77, Tanisha Bates was remanded to the temporary custody of the Commissioner of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services (the “Commissioner”) in order to evaluate options for her treatment or release. The clinical psychologist who performed the evaluation recommended inpatient hospitalization whereas the psychiatrist recommended conditional release coupled with outpatient treatment. The Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute (“NVMHI”) then prepared a court-ordered conditional release plan in advance of hearing “to determine the appropriate disposition of the acquittee” in accordance with Va. Code Ann. §§ 19.2– 182.3 and 19.2–182.7. At the request of the Commissioner, the Forensic Review Panel also submitted a report, concluding that “Bates' continued delusions, risk of suicide, lack of substantial response to treatment, and history of deadly and dangerous behavior” all supported a recommendation that Bates should remain committed to inpatient hospitalization. The circuit court followed that recommendation and entered an order committing Bates to the custody of the Commissioner.

Bates appealed the order, contending that the circuit court misapplied the relevant Virginia Code sections in reaching the decision that she required inpatient hospitalization. The Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the commitment order of the court below, holding that it had correctly applied the statutory criteria. Although the court below had acknowledged that the NVMHI report stated that Bates was “ready to leave” inpatient treatment, the finding that there was “no means for controlling her on an outpatient basis” was enough to warrant an order committing Bates to inpatient hospitalization. Further, the Supreme Court held that the provisions in Va. Code Ann. § 19.2–182.7 do not require lower courts to “fashion an appropriate plan for [] outpatient treatment and supervision when it [has] already determined that [a defendant] [is] not eligible for conditional release, and that she require[s] inpatient hospitalization.”

Found in DMHL Volume 34 Issue 1