For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: April 20, 2007

Idaho Seeks United States Supreme Court Review of Decision Applying Fifth Amendment Rights to Psychosexual Evaluations

(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has asked the United States Supreme Court to overturn a decision that allows convicted sex offenders to refuse to participate in a psychosexual evaluation before sentencing. Idaho law allows such evaluations so that judges, in sentencing sex offenders, can consider the risk that the offender poses to society. However, the Idaho Supreme Court has ruled that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination allows a defendant to refuse to participate in the evaluation when it is ordered by the sentencing court.

Wasden filed a petition for certiorari today, formally requesting the Supreme Court to review the case of Krispen Estrada, formerly of Ontario, Oregon.

“We are asking the Supreme Court of the United States to decide the scope of the Fifth Amendment right to silence in sentencing,” Attorney General Wasden said. “To date, the Court has held that the right applies to facts of the crime and any fact that the government must prove to make the defendant eligible for a particular punishment. Thus, the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision in the Estrada case, that it applies whenever the sentence might be ‘harsher,’ goes beyond the holdings of the Supreme Court of the United States.”

BACKGROUND

In February 2001, Estrada choked, battered and raped his estranged wife in her Twin Falls home in front of their five children. After the victim and children were able to leave the house, Estrada engaged in a seven-hour armed standoff with police before he surrendered. He was charged with rape and kidnapping.

At a plea hearing on May 7, 2001 in Fifth District Court in Twin Falls County, the district judge advised Estrada that he was waiving his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Estrada pled guilty to rape and the district court ordered a psychosexual evaluation. The kidnapping charge was dismissed.

Estrada then wrote to the district court, asserting that the evaluation was unnecessary and was delaying his sentencing. Estrada’s attorney informed Estrada that the evaluation “must be completed before sentencing” and encouraged Estrada to cooperate with the evaluation.

The district court imposed a sentence of life in prison with 25 years fixed. The Idaho Supreme Court later concluded that the sentencing judge relied “in part on the evaluation’s conclusion that Estrada had an ‘extreme violent nature’ and a low level of treatment motivation. The Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed the sentence on appeal.

Estrada then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming his attorney had provided ineffective assistance, in violation of Estrada’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

Ultimately, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled in Estrada’s favor and ordered that he be sentenced again. In doing so, the court held that the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination applies to psychosexual evaluations and that Estrada may have received a harsher sentence as a result of his attorney’s failure to advise him of his Fifth Amendment rights.

Click here to read Idaho’s petition to the United States Supreme Court.

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