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Name: People v. Acosta
Case #: D071575
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 02/06/2018

Electronic search condition of probation is reasonably related to future criminality and is justified by the state’s interest in public safety. Appellant was granted probation following a conviction for felony vandalism (Pen. Code, § 594, subds. (a), (b)(2)(A)) committed for the benefit of a gang (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subd. (d)). His probation terms required him to submit his electronic devices, such as computers, to warrantless searches. On appeal, he challenged the condition as overbroad and unreasonable. Held: Affirmed. A trial court has broad discretion to impose reasonable conditions of probation. A condition is invalid under People v. Lent (1975) 15 Cal.3d 481, only if it (1) has no relationship to the crime of which the offender was convicted, (2) relates to conduct which is not in itself criminal, and (3) requires or forbids conduct which is not reasonably related to future criminality. Judicial discretion to set terms of probation is further restricted by constitutional considerations. However, if the condition serves to rehabilitate and protect public safety, it may impinge on a constitutional right if it is narrowly tailored to the purpose of the condition. Here, the Lent issue involved the third prong of its test, i.e., whether the electronics search condition is reasonably related to preventing future criminality. The term will allow a probation officer to ensure that defendant is complying with the gang conditions of probation, like not associating with gang members, and is therefore reasonably related to future criminality. Further, it is narrowly tailored to limit the impact on defendant’s constitutional rights because he was not required to disclose passwords and, in any event, the state’s interest in public safety outweighs the slight invasion of defendant’s privacy right that results from the search term. [Editor’s Note: The issue of the validity of an electronics search condition under Lent is current pending in the California Supreme Court. (See In re Ricardo P. (2015) 241 Cal.App.4th 676, review granted 2/17/2016 (S230923/A144149).)]

The stay-away condition of probation is reasonably related to the offenses defendant pleaded guilty to in this case. Defendant challenged the probation term requiring him to stay away from the private residences he vandalized with gang graffiti. This term is related to several of the counts of conviction. It is also related to future criminality because it will reduce the chances of defendant reoffending and the impact, including fear, his gang has on the community.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: