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Name: People v. Navarro
Case #: G050974
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 02/18/2016

Parole condition prohibiting use of various Internet programs was void for vagueness. Navarro pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping. He was paroled with the special condition that he “shall not use an electronic bulletin board system, [I]nternet relay chat channel, instant messaging, newsgroup, usergroup, peer to peer; i.e, Napster, Gnutella, Freenet, etc. This would include any site-base; i.e., Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo e-mail, etc., which allows the user to have the ability to surf the Internet undetected.” His parole was violated for using his cell phone to access various social media sites (Facebook and Instagram) and to connect with women on dating websites. At the violation hearing, Navarro argued the special condition was vague and overbroad. The trial court disagreed and sentenced him to 180 days for the violation. Navarro appealed. Held: Reversed. Although the special condition was reasonably related to deterring Navarro from using the Internet to prey on young victims, it was unconstitutionally vague. “The vagueness doctrine bars enforcement of a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application.” (In re Sheena K. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 875, 887-889.) The condition here was not sufficiently precise. It could mean that Navarro was prohibited from using various email providers to surf the Internet undetected, but it could also mean that Navarro was prohibited from using the Internet at all to communicate with others without revealing his identity, or that Navarro was prohibited from using email altogether. Because reasonable minds would have to guess at its meaning and could differ as to its application, the special condition is unconstitutionally vague.

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