In the Matter of the Detention of D. V., Appellant.
trial court committed D.V. for 14 days after determining that
he presented a likelihood of serious harm to others due to a
mental disorder. D.V. argues that the trial court
misinterpreted the relevant statute. He argues that statutory
language of RCW 71.05.020(27)(a)(ii) requires that the person
threatened with harm must actually be in fear of such harm.
posted comments on Facebook that threatened his soon-to-be
ex-wife and her boyfriend. Fairfax Hospital petitioned to
have him involuntarily committed for 14 days. The State
presented one witness, Dr. Lugo-Steidel, a clinical
psychologist at the hospital who evaluated D.V. He testified
that D.V. suffered from bipolar disorder and presented a
danger to others as a result. He further testified that D.V.
acknowledged that he had threatened harm to his ex-wife and
her boyfriend, and that he was fearful that D.V. would in
fact harm them.
the State rested its case, D.V. moved to dismiss on the
grounds that the State failed to present evidence that anyone
was personally in fear of harm. The trial court denied this
motion. D.V. testified in his own behalf.
trial court concluded that the State had shown probable cause
that D.V., as a result of his mental disorder, presented a
likelihood of serious harm to others. It entered a 14 day
order of commitment. D.V. appeals.
makes a single argument: his commitment was erroneous because
the trial court misinterpreted the definition of
"likelihood of serious harm" found in RCW
presents a question of statutory construction. The purpose of
statutory interpretation is to determine and give effect to
the intent of the legislature. State v. Evans, 177
Wn.2d 186, 192, 298 P.3d 724 (2013). Legislative intent is
first determined by looking at the language of the statute.
State v. Hansen, 122 Wn.2d 712, 717, 862 P.2d 117
(1993). When statutory language is unambiguous,
"legislative intent is apparent, and we will not
construe the statute otherwise." State v. J.P.,
149 Wn.2d 444, 450, 69 P.3d 318 (2003). Because the
involuntary treatment act impacts liberty interests, it must be
strictly construed. In re Pet, of D.W., 181 Wn.2d
201, 207, 332 P.3d 423 (2014).
shall order a person be detained for involuntary treatment if
it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that that person,
as a result of a mental disorder, presents a likelihood of
serious harm. RCW 71.05.240(3)(a). A "likelihood of
serious harm" is defined as:
(a) A substantial risk that: (i) Physical harm will be
inflicted by a person upon his or her own person, as
evidenced by threats or attempts to commit suicide or inflict
physical harm on oneself; (ii) physical harm will be
inflicted by a person upon another, as evidenced by behavior
which has caused such harm or which places another person or
persons in reasonable fear of sustaining such harm; or (iii)
physical harm will be inflicted by a person upon the property
of others, as evidenced by behavior which has caused
substantial loss or damage to the property of others; or
(b) The person has threatened the physical safety of another
and has a history of one or more violent acts.
definition of "likelihood of serious harm"
addresses harm to self, others, and property. See
RCW 71.05.020(27). Under every option in the definition, risk
of harm must be evidenced by a corroborating factor.
Id. Only in the case of harm to oneself is a mere