Vague Probation Condition in California

In People v. Barajas (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 748, the probation condition in Barajas stated: " 'You're not to be adjacent to any school campus during school hours unless you're enrolled in or with prior permission of the school administrator or probation officer.' " (Barajas, supra, 198 Cal.App.4th at p. 760.)

The Court agreed that the probation condition was vague, explaining:

"At a sufficient distance, most reasonable people would agree that items are no longer adjacent, but where to draw the line in the continuum from adjacent to distant is subject to the interpretation of every individual probation officer charged with enforcing this condition. . . . To avoid inviting arbitrary enforcement and to provide fair warning of what locations should be avoided, we conclude that the probation condition requires modification." (Id. at p. 761.)

The Attorney General in Barajas proposed modifying the probation condition to include the following language: " 'Do not knowingly be on or within 50 feet of a school campus . . . .' " (Ibid.)

The Court agreed that a 50-foot distance restriction would provide the defendant with "sufficient guidance" (id. at p. 762), and modified the condition to state: " 'You're not to knowingly be on or within 50 feet of any school campus during school hours unless you're enrolled in it or with prior permission of the school administrator or probation officer' " (id. at p. 763).

The Court also stated the following:

"While accepting the Attorney General's concession in this case, we recognize that other modifications may equally solve the problem we perceive, such as a different measure of distance (e.g., '30 feet,' '20 yards'), a different measure of physical proximity (e.g., 'on' or 'one block away') or otherwise mapping restricted areas (e.g., 'the 1200 block of Main Street'). We do not intend to suggest that a 50-foot distance is a constitutional threshold." (Id. at p. 762, fn. 10.)