Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, January 15, 2020


Page 1


Court of Appeal:

Automobile Thief’s Recidivism Doesn’t Justify Electronic-Search Condition of Probation


By a MetNews Staff Writer


A probation condition requiring a defendant convicted of car theft to submit his electronic devices to search by law enforcement officials is unreasonable, Div. One the Fourth District Court of Appeal held yesterday, rejecting the People’s contention that his repeated law-breaking justifies the proviso.

The opinion, which was not certified for publication, directs that probation condition imposed on Ricardo A. Perez be stricken.

In arguing for affirmance, the Office of Attorney General sought to distinguish the circumstances from those present in In re Ricardo P., decided by the California Supreme Court in August 2019. There, Justice Goodwin Liu said in the majority opinion:

“We hold that the record here, which contains no indication that Ricardo had used or will use electronic devices in connection with drugs or any illegal activity, is insufficient to justify the substantial burdens imposed by this electronics search condition.”

He said the condition was “not reasonably related to future criminality” and is therefore invalid under the court’s 1975 decision in People v. Lent.

The Attorney General’s Office contended that Perez, unlike the juvenile offender in Ricardo P., had “quite an extensive criminal history for someone who is just 23 years old.”

Justice Cynthia Aaron responded:

“[T]here is no evidence in the record that Perez has ever utilized an electronic device, cell phone, or computer to commit or even plan his crimes. The fact that Perez is a recidivist, in the absence of any connection between his criminal activity and the use of an electronic device, is not sufficient to justify the imposition of a search condition that is as burdensome and intrusive as the electronics search condition imposed here.”

She elaborated:

Ricardo P. counsels that a broad search of a probationer’s electronic devices, without restriction, is not permissible in a case such as this one, where the record discloses no connection between the probationer’s use of electronics and his drug use or other criminality.”

The case is People v. Ricardo Perez, D074650.


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