Probation Conditions Prohibiting Association in California

In People v. Garcia (1993) 19 Cal.App.4th 97 (Garcia), the court determined that a condition barring association with " 'any felons, ex-felons, users or sellers of narcotics' " (Id. at p. 100) was an unconstitutionally overbroad infringement on freedom of association absent an explicit knowledge requirement. (Id. at p. 102.) In rejecting the Attorney General's invitation to construe the challenged condition as containing an implicit scienter requirement, the Garcia court noted "the rule that probation conditions that implicate constitutional rights must be narrowly drawn, and the importance of constitutional rights, lead us to the conclusion that this factor should not be left to implication." (Ibid.) It is well established that an individual will not be subject to criminal sanctions without proof of a mental state corresponding to the prohibited conduct. As the California Supreme Court has explained, "the requirement that, for a criminal conviction, the prosecution prove some form of guilty intent, knowledge, or criminal negligence is of such long standing and so fundamental to our criminal law that penal statutes will often be construed to contain such an element despite their failure expressly to state it. 'Generally, " 'the existence of a mens rea is the rule of, rather than the exception to, the principles of Anglo-American criminal jurisprudence.' . . . In other words, there must be a union of act and wrongful intent, or criminal negligence. (Pen. Code 20; .)' " (In re Jorge M. (2000) 23 Cal.4th 866, 872, quoting People v. Coria (1999) 21 Cal.4th 868, 876.) " At least where the penalties imposed are substantial, Penal Code section 20 can fairly be said to establish a presumption against criminal liability without mental fault or negligence, rebuttable only by compelling evidence of legislative intent to dispense with mens rea entirely." (Jorge M. at p. 879.)