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Court Finds Probable Cause to Commit Joseph Mitchell as a Sexually Violent Person


Department of Justice Will Try Mitchell Under State's Sexually Violent Person Statute


MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard G. Niess has found probable cause to commit Joseph Mitchell to treatment under the state's sexual predator law. The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) filed the state's petition to commit Mitchell to treatment on April 6, 2010.


Chapter 980 of the Wisconsin Statutes relates to the control, care and treatment of sexually violent persons. Under Wisconsin law, a person may be subject to a civil commitment when he/she has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has a mental disorder, and is dangerous to others because the mental disorder makes it likely he or she will commit further acts of sexual violence.  A civil commitment is defined in Wisconsin law as commitment to the custody and care of the Department of Health Services for control, care, and treatment until the person is no longer considered sexually violent.


According to the DOJ petition, in 1997 Mitchell was convicted in Dane County of two counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault/Use of Force.  Mitchell was sentenced to ten years concurrent on each count.  Mitchell was scheduled for release from the Department of Corrections on April 9, 2010, but will be detained at a Department of Health Services facility awaiting trial.


The state's petition alleges that Mitchell suffers from a mental condition that predisposes him to engage in acts of sexual violence.  The petition also alleges that Mitchell is dangerous as his mental disorder makes it likely that he will engage in future acts of sexual violence.  A petition is only an allegation and a finding of probable cause only allows the state's case to move forward.  Mitchell is legally presumed not to be a sexually violent person unless and until the state proves him to be a sexually violent person at a trial.


Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Weise represents the state in this case.