Parole Searches In California

Parole searches were addressed in People v. Reyes (1998) 19 Cal.4th 743 where the court addressed the "tension" between Tyrell J. and Burgener. In Reyes, defendant was on parole and agreed to a parole condition which allowed any law enforcement officer to search defendant and his residence without a warrant. Defendant's parole officer received a tip that defendant may be under the influence of illegal narcotics. the parole agent requested the local police to evaluate defendant to determine if the tip was accurate. The officers observed defendant exiting a small shed in back of his house, but did not identify any suspicious activity. the officers searched the shed and located methamphetamine. The Supreme Court held that when an involuntary search condition is properly imposed the searching officers are not required to have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity before conducting the search. "Such a search is reasonable within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment as long as it is not arbitrary, capricious or harassing." ( People v. Reyes, supra, 19 Cal.4th at p. 752.) Accordingly, the search of defendant did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights. In People v. Woods (1999) 21 Cal.4th 668 an officer observed Mofield walking in front of a house occupied by Loza carrying a long object covered by a cloth. The officer knew that Loza was on probation and that she had agreed to warrantless searches of her residence. When Mofield saw the officer, he quickened his pace and turned into a driveway. the officer detained Mofield and discovered a long knife under the cloth and drugs and drug paraphernalia on Mofield. After he was arrested, Mofield told the officer he resided with Loza. Believing he would find incriminating evidence against Mofield, the officer decided to conduct a probation search of Loza's residence. When he knocked on the door, Loza refused permission to enter. the officer reminded Loza of her probation search requirement and entered the premises. He discovered defendants, who also lived in the residence, in a bedroom along with additional drugs and paraphernalia. The trial court ordered the evidence against defendants suppressed because it found that the officer used the probation search condition as a pretext to look for incriminating evidence against Mofield. The Supreme Court accepted this factual finding, but reversed the trial court's order of suppression. Concluding that the subjective intent of the officer conducting the search is irrelevant. ( People v. Woods, supra, 21 Cal.4th at pp. 680-681.) The court found that the probation search was justified because the officer had been told three days before that drugs were being sold out of the house and because of Mofield's actions as observed by the officer that day. ( Id. at p. 681.) The court limited its holding by stating that the search may not exceed the probation search clause at issue, the search may not be undertaken in a harassing or unreasonable manner, and that the search is limited to those portions of the residence that the officers reasonably believe the probationer has complete or joint control over. ( Id. at p. 682.) In In re Tyrell J. (1994) 8 Cal.4th 68, a juvenile was on probation and was subject to a search condition at any time by any law enforcement officer. An officer stopped the juvenile and some friends because of suspicious behavior. the officer did not know the juvenile was on probation. During the course of the stop the officer searched the juvenile and found illegal drugs. the trial and appellate court both concluded that absent the probation term, the search violated the Fourth Amendment. The Supreme Court, after distinguishing between adult and juvenile probationers, concluded that the juvenile did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy that society was willing to recognize as legitimate. ( In re Tyrell J., supra, 8 Cal.4th at p. 86.) "Tyrell J. was subject to a valid search condition, directly imposed on him by the juvenile court in a prior matter. We presume he was aware of that limitation on his freedom, and that any police officer, probation officer, or school official could at any time stop him on the street, at school, or even enter his home, and ask that he submit to a warrantless search. There is no indication the minor was led to believe that only police officers who were aware of the condition would validly execute it. The minor certainly could not reasonably have believed the officer would not search him, for he did not know whether the officer was aware of the search condition. Thus, any expectation the minor may have had concerning the privacy of his bag of marijuana was manifestly unreasonable." (Ibid.)