California Landmark Cases on Probation Conditions

A probation condition may be overbroad if it unduly restricts the exercise of a constitutional right. (In re Byron B. (2004) 119 Cal.App.4th 1013, 1016.) Conditions of probation that impinge on constitutional rights must be tailored carefully and be reasonably related to the compelling state interest in reformation and rehabilitation. (People v. Delvalle (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 869, 879.) If available alternative means exist that are less violative of a constitutional right and are narrowly drawn to correlate more closely with the purpose contemplated, those alternatives should be used. (People v. Zaring (1992) 8 Cal.App.4th 362, 371.) Probation conditions are valid, however, even though they restrict a probationer's exercise of constitutional rights, if they are narrowly drawn to serve the important interests of public safety and rehabilitation and are specifically tailored to the individual probationer. (In re Babak S. (1993) 18 Cal.App.4th 1077, 1084.) Further, a probation condition must be sufficiently precise for the probationer to know what is required of him, and for the court to determine whether the condition has been violated. (People v. Lopez (1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 615, 634.) "A probation condition 'must be sufficiently precise for the probationer to know what is required of him, and for the court to determine whether the condition has been violated,' if it is to withstand a challenge on the ground of vagueness. " (In re Sheena K. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 875, 890 (Sheena K.).) "The underpinning of a vagueness challenge is the due process concept of "fair warning." (People v. Castenada (2000) 23 Cal.4th 743, 751.) The rule of fair warning consists of 'the due process concepts of preventing arbitrary law enforcement and providing adequate notice to potential offenders' (ibid.), protections that are 'embodied in the due process clauses of the federal and California Constitutions. (U.S. Const., Amends. V, XIV; Cal. Const., art. I, 7).' (Ibid.)" (Ibid.) "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." ' A vague law 'not only fails to provide adequate notice to those who must observe its strictures, but also "impermissibly delegates basic policy matters to policemen, judges, and juries for resolution on an ad hoc and subjective basis, with the attendant dangers of arbitrary and discriminatory application." ' In deciding the adequacy of any notice afforded those bound by a legal restriction, we are guided by the principles that 'abstract legal commands must be applied in a specific context,' and that, although not admitting of 'mathematical certainty,' the language used must have '"reasonable specificity."' " (Sheena K., supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 890.) "A probation condition that imposes limitations on a person's constitutional rights must closely tailor those limitations to the purpose of the condition to avoid being invalidated as unconstitutionally overbroad. (See In re White (1979) 97 Cal.App.3d 141, 149-150.)" (Sheena K., supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 890.) "The essential question in an overbreadth challenge is the closeness of the fit between the legitimate purpose of the restriction and the burden it imposes on the defendant's constitutional rights--bearing in mind, of course, that perfection in such matters is impossible, and that practical necessity will justify some infringement." (In re E.O. (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 1149, 1153.)