Law Office of Michael L. Fell
900 Roosevelt Irvine, CA 92620
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Are People on Probation Required to Turn Over Their Electronic Devices on Demand? You May Be Surprised by the Answer

It is often the case that people assume that if they are on probation, a judge can impose any restriction or condition they would like. This is not true. Keep reading to get the facts about probation, probation violations, and the limits of the judge and probation officer. If you are facing charges of a probation violation or another criminal matter, contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.

Understanding the Reason for Probation

To better understand the limits of probation, it is smart to begin by understanding the purpose of it in the first place. It is a condition that is placed on some people after they are convicted of a crime. The purpose is to allow the person to serve little or no jail time but to agree to be supervised by the court or a probation officer.

The Court Can Impose Many Restrictions

It is true that while a person is under probation, the court is able to impose many different conditions. For example, the person on probation may be required to attend 12-step meetings, domestic violence treatment, and other classes. They may not be able to consume alcohol, they may not be able to drive, and other restrictions may be placed on them.

There Are Serious Consequences for Violating Probation

If a person violates the terms of their probation, they often face serious repercussions. This could include revoke and reinstating probation with additional terms or for a longer time, or terminating probation altogether and imposing a sentence in jail or prison.

There Are Limits to What a Judge Can Require

While the court does have leeway in the conditions they can impose on a person, they do not have entirely free rein. For example, the California Court of Appeals’ recent ruling stated that the court’s ability to set probation terms and restrictions is not absolute.

The case they ruled on involved a person who was convicted of illegally carrying a concealed weapon in the waistband of their pants. They agreed to probation for three years in exchange for their guilty plea. The court imposed an additional requirement that the defendant allow his electronic devices to be searched at any time. The court was later overturned when the California Court of Appeals found that this was an unreasonable invasion privacy in response to his particular charges.

However, this does not mean that another person cannot have their electronic devices searched but the court holds that the search must be relevant to their crime. For example, a person convicted of cybercrime may have their internet access restricted. In that case, the probation officer could likely the defendant’s electronics at any time.