California Court of Appeals upholds search of cell phone as proper condition to juvenile probation

In a brief unpublished order which may be moot depending on what the California Supreme Court holds in the upcoming In re Ricardo P., (S230923), the appellate court held that there was a sufficient nexus between the electronic search conditions imposed by the juvenile court and the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s behavior to hold that such a probation condition is valid.

This minor admitted to criminal allegations of possessing a concealed dirk or dagger. The circumstances of his arrest suggested that he was a member of a gang or socialized with gang members.

The juvenile court judge placed him on probation with the following conditions: 1. “submit to a search of any electronic device, such as a computer, electronic notepad, or cell phone, at any time without a warrant by any law enforcement officer, including a probation officer;” 2. “provide all passwords or pass phrases to any internet sites or social media sites” he used or accessed, including Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, or Google+. When requested by any law enforcement officer, Anthony was required to “submit those websites to a search at any time without a warrant.”

The judge said that this was to “monitor his behavior and communication with gang members.” The appellate court held that “(t)he court could reasonably conclude that monitoring Anthony’s electronic communications—by phone, texting, e-mail, and on social media sites—was critical to accomplishing important rehabilitative goals for this 17 year old.”

The court specifically rejected the argument that Riley or Carpenter override the need to monitor a probationer.

The case is People v. Anthony A., 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4924 (Cal. App. 4th Dist.) (July 20).

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