Landmark California Cases on Juvenile Probation

Welfare and Institutions Code section 730, subdivision (b) provides that the juvenile court may impose on the minor "any and all reasonable conditions that it may determine fitting and proper to the end that justice may be done and the reformation and rehabilitation of the ward enhanced." The juvenile court has broader discretion in formulating the terms of the minor's probation than that exercised with adult probationers. (In re Victor L. (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 902, 910.) "Even where there is an invasion of protected freedoms 'the power of the state to control the conduct of children reaches beyond the scope of its authority over adults . . . .'" (Ginsberg v. New York (1968) 390 U.S. 629, 638.) "This is because juveniles are deemed to be 'more in need of guidance and supervision than adults, and because a minor's constitutional rights are more circumscribed.' " (Victor L., at p. 910.) Thus, "'a condition of probation that would be unconstitutional or otherwise improper for an adult probationer may be permissible for a minor under the supervision of the juvenile court.'" (In re Sheena K. (2007) 40 Cal.4th 875, 889.) Nonetheless, the constitutional doctrines of vagueness and overbreadth may limit the scope of conditions of probation imposed on wards of the juvenile court. "The underpinning of a vagueness challenge is the due process concept of 'fair warning.' " (Sheena K., supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 890.) "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." ' " (Ibid.) "Restrictions upon access to the Internet necessarily curtail First Amendment rights." (In re Stevens (2004) 119 Cal.App.4th 1228, 1235.) "'Through the use of chat rooms, any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than it could from any soapbox. Through the use of Web pages, mail exploders, and newsgroups, the same individual can become a pamphleteer.'" (Id. at p. 1236, quoting Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union (1997) 521 U.S. 844, 870.) As the Stevens court observed, "'Two hundred years after the framers ratified the Constitution, the Net has taught us what the First Amendment means.'" (Stevens, at p. 1236, quoting Lessig, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (1999) p. 10.) Given the importance of these First Amendment rights, a probation condition that imposes limitations on the form of Internet use "must closely tailor those limitations to the purpose of the condition to avoid being invalidated as unconstitutionally overbroad." (Sheena K., supra, 40 Cal.4th at p. 890; see also Stevens, at p. 1237.)