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Name: In re Ricardo P.
Case #: S230923
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 08/15/2019

Opinion by Justice Liu (joined by Justices Cuéllar, Kruger, and Groban). Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye filed a concurring and dissenting opinion, in which Justices Chin and Corrigan concurred.
Minor’s electronics search condition of probation was not reasonably related to future criminality under People v. Lent (1975) 15 Cal.3d 481, where the burden imposed on the minor’s privacy was substantially disproportionate to the condition’s goal of monitoring and deterring drug use. Ricardo P., a juvenile, was placed on probation after admitting two counts of felony burglary. The juvenile court imposed an electronics search condition of probation in order to monitor Ricardo’s compliance with a separate probation condition prohibiting him from using or possessing illegal drugs. The Court of Appeal held the electronics search condition was unconstitutionally overbroad and should be narrowed, but concluded the condition permissible under Lent. The California Supreme Court granted review on the Lent issue. Held: Judgment striking electronics search condition affirmed. In Lent, the Supreme Court adopted a three-part test to assess whether a probation condition is invalid. The court accepted the Court of Appeal’s conclusion that the first two prongs of the test were satisfied. After reviewing relevant case law addressing probation conditions, the court concluded that the third prong of the Lent test (whether the condition “requires or forbids conduct which is not reasonably related to future criminality”) contemplates a degree of proportionality between the burden imposed by a probation condition and the legitimate interests served by the condition. Here, such proportionality was lacking. Nothing in the record suggested Ricardo had ever used an electronic device or social media in connection with criminal conduct, and the condition was imposed based solely on the trial court’s observations that minors “typically” brag about drug usage by posting on the Internet or social media. At the same time, the sweeping electronics search condition significantly burdens Ricardo’s privacy interests. As a result, the condition was not “reasonably related to future criminality” and was therefore invalid under Lent.

People v. Olguin (2008) 45 Cal.4th 375 does not require a different result and does not categorically permit any probation conditions reasonably related to enhancing the effective supervision of a probationer. In People v. Olguin, the court considered whether a probation condition requiring the defendant to notify his probation officer of the presence of any pets at a defendant’s place of residence was reasonably related to future criminality. In upholding the condition under Lent, the Olguin court stated that a condition of probation that enables a probation officer to supervise his or her charges effectively is reasonably related to future criminality. Like the Court of Appeal, the Attorney General here characterized Olguin as “unmistakably stand[ing] for the principle that conditions reasonably related to enhancing the effective supervision of probationers are valid under Lent.” The court disagreed. Olguin does not “categorically permit any probation conditions reasonably related to enhancing the effective supervision of a probationer.” Rather, the reasoning of Olguin reflected the specific circumstances presented by the pet notification issue, and emphasized the nonburdensome manner in which the condition helped to ensure the probation officer’s safety during probation searches. In finding the notification condition imposed no undue hardship or burden on the defendant, the Olguin court reasoned that the reporting of pets was a “simple task” and that the condition did not prevent the defendant from owning pets or require permission to have a pet. “Compared to the minimally invasive pet notification in Olguin, requiring a probationer to surrender electronic devices to search at any time is far more burdensome and intrusive, and requires a correspondingly substantial and particularized justification.” [Editor’s Note: The court noted that its “holding does not categorically invalidate electronics search conditions” and that “[i]n certain cases, the probationer’s offense or personal history may provide the juvenile court with a sufficient factual basis from which it can determine that an electronics search condition is a proportional means of deterring the probationer from future criminality.”]

The full opinion is available here: