Cal.1: An electronic device probation search condition is reasonable to aid rehabilitation; but here it needs to be narrower

An electronic search condition for this juvenile involved in car burglaries was reasonable in its inception, but it had to be narrowed. The court finds an electronic search condition reasonable because of the inordinate amount of time he spends on devices and communicating with friends, particularly the others involved in this crime spree. Remanded, however, to narrow it so it serves a rehabilitative purpose. In re Alonzo M., 2019 Cal. App. LEXIS 901 (1st Dist. Sept. 20, 2019):

This is a legitimate rehabilitative interest that a properly drawn electronic search term can serve. But the electronic search condition here is not limited to monitoring the company Alonzo keeps. It authorizes “search of any medium of communication reasonably likely to reveal whether [Alonzo is] complying with the terms of [his] probation” generally. Since Alonzo has probation conditions in addition to the no-contact orders—such as a requirement that he abstain from using drugs or alcohol—this probation condition would appear to allow probation officers and police to peruse the content of Alonzo’s communications to see whether he is, for example, boasting of illegal drug use. After Ricardo P., we conclude that a search clause of this magnitude is not permissible in a case such as this one, where the record discloses no connection between the probationer’s use of electronics and his drug use or other criminality. (Ricardo P., supra, 7 Cal.5th at p. 1115.) This wide-ranging search clause burdens Alonzo’s privacy in a manner substantially disproportionate to the probation department’s legitimate interest in monitoring Alonzo’s compliance with the stay-away orders. Under Ricardo P., the search term is not “‘reasonably related to future criminality'” (Lent, supra, 15 Cal.3d at p. 486), and must accordingly be limited.

But because the juvenile court properly concluded that an electronic search term in some form could be imposed as a condition of Alonzo’s probation, we will follow the recommendation of both parties and remand the case for further proceedings in the juvenile court. Applying the reasoning of Ricardo P., the juvenile court may impose an electronic search condition that is more narrowly tailored to allowing search of any medium of communication reasonably likely to reveal whether Alonzo is associating with prohibited persons. The burden on Alonzo’s privacy must be substantially proportionate to the probation department’s legitimate interest in preventing him from communicating with his co-responsibles or other identified peers who might draw him in to criminal conduct.

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