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Name: People v. Rhinehart
Case #: A148548
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 02/28/2018

Gang Probation condition prohibiting defendant from being adjacent to a school campus except under certain circumstances was modified to specify that he must maintain a 50-foot distance from any school campus. Rhinehart pleaded no contest to carrying a dirk or dagger and exhibiting a deadly weapon after he harassed a group of children in a frozen yogurt shop and physically fought with a customer. He was granted probation. On appeal he challenged three conditions of probation as vague. One of the three challenged conditions was a gang condition that provided “You shall not be adjacent to any school campus during school hours unless you are enrolled or with prior permission of school Administration or probation.” Held: Affirmed with this condition modified. A probation condition is unconstitutionally vague if it is not sufficiently precise for the probationer to know what is required of him, and for the court to determine whether the condition has been violated. The term “adjacent to” is a concept that is sometimes difficult to apply. Where to draw that line is subject to the interpretation of each individual probation officer charged with enforcing the condition. Relying on People v. Barajas (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 748, the Court of Appeal here addressed this uncertainty by modifying the condition to specify that Rhinehart not be within 50 feet of any school campus. But the court disagreed that “school campus” is vague, because there must be an element of willfulness for conduct to constitute a violation. Nor does the restriction infringe on the Rhinehart’s travel rights. Reasonable and incidental restrictions on movements of probationers are permissible. Further, if he has a legitimate need to be near a school, he is able to request permission from the school’s administrator or probation officials.

It is unnecessary to add “knowingly” to the condition that the defendant stay out of places where alcohol is the primary item of sale. The trial court also imposed a probation condition that required Rhinehart to “[s]tay out of places where alcohol is the primary item of sale, such as bars or liquor stores.” Rhinehart argued that the condition was vague and that an express knowledge requirement had to be added. The Court of appeal disagreed. Citing People v. Hall (2017) 2 Cal.5th 494, the appellate court concluded that no scienter requirements need expressly be added to conditions of probation. For it to be a violation of probation, the conduct must be willful. If Rhinehart reasonably does not know that a place he enters has alcohol as its primary item of sale, then his conduct is not willful and there would be no violation. Nothing would change by adding “knowingly” to the condition, and the court declined to modify the condition.

Good behavior condition was not unconstitutionally vague. The third challenged probation condition required Rhinehart to “[b]e of good conduct and obey all laws.” The Court of Appeal determined that the condition was not vague. The phrase “be of good conduct” must be interpreted with its conjunctive phrase “and obey all laws.” “Applying context and common sense, the good behavior condition simply requires Rhinehart be a law-abiding citizen.” The court distinguished In re P.O. (2016) 246 Cal.App.4th 288, 299, which determined the condition “be of good citizenship and good conduct” is vague.

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