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Name: People v. Maldonado
Case #: H044815
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 04/12/2018
Summary

Probation condition allowing warrantless search of electronics and disclosure of passwords was not an improper term nor overbroad. Defendant was convicted of possessing methamphetamine for sale. He was placed on probation. One term of probation required him to submit all of his electronic devices to warrantless search and to provide the passwords necessary to access the devices. Trial counsel argued the conditions were overbroad, vague, and lacked a nexus to the crime because they also allowed computers and notebooks to be searched. Defendant appealed the probation term. Held: Affirmed. A probation condition is not invalid unless it has no relationship to the offense, relates to conduct which is not itself criminal, and is not reasonably related to future criminality. Defendant was convicted of possessing methamphetamine for sale and he used an electronic device in making those sales. The condition allows a search of electronic devices only for certain categories of communication and only requires disclosing passwords necessary to access those communications. The fact the condition is not restricted to defendant’s phone is reasonable, as he could use a computer or tablet for the communication. Allowing an officer access to this information will facilitate defendant’s supervision and deter future criminality by ensuring he does not attempt to sell drugs via such devices.

The electronics search term of probation is not unconstitutionally overbroad or vague. A probation condition that imposes limitations on a defendant’s constitutional rights must closely tailor the limitation to avoid invalidation as overbroad. Probationers retain some expectation of privacy, but it is a reduced one. The purpose of the search condition is to prevent defendant from using electronic devices in the future to facilitate drug sales. He possessed a cell phone while committing his crime. The condition is not overbroad, as access to defendant’s electronic devices is proper to ensure he does not reoffend while on probation. Nor is the condition vague, as the phrase “electronic devices” provides reasonable specificity by including three examples of the types of devices subject to search: telephones, computers, and notepads. Further, the scope of allowable searches is defined by a listing of the types of information that can be searched.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/H044815.PDF