Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

California Sex Offender Parolee’s Computer Restrictions Valid Where Computer Use was Related to Past Crimes

by John E. Dannenberg

The California Court of Appeal has held that a “no-computers” condition of parole for a parolee convicted of lewd conduct with a minor was appropriate where the parolee had had child porn on his computer in the past and had encrypted his home computer to prevent authorities from examining its files. Because the restriction imposed was not a blanket prohibition, but permitted access to the computer and Internet upon first obtaining permission from the parole officer, the Court found it was reasonably related to deterring future criminality.

Davey Hudson, while coaching a boy’s roller hockey team, was convicted in 1998 of fondling an 11-year-¬old’s genitals on six occasions. When arrested, a search of his vehicle yielded computer-derived instructions on what to do if arrested for child molestation. He received one year in county jail plus five years probation. In 1999, Hudson quickly logged off and encrypted his computer when his probation officer came in for a search. His house contained numerous child pornography documents. In another probation search in April 2001, hundreds of photographs of children and a computer with an attached web camera were found. In June 2001, Hudson was convicted of two misdemeanor counts of child molestation; his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to six years in state prison. Upon release, he challenged his parole conditions that restricted computer / Internet usage.

The Court of Appeal first ruled that when the parole office failed to timely answer Hudson’s second-level administrative appeal, Hudson was deemed to have exhausted his available appeals, because “the regulations do not specify how the third level of review is reached in the event that the second level of review is never undertaken.”

The Court next distinguished Hudson’s case from In re Stevens, 119 Cal.App.4th 1228 (2004), which had struck down a child molester’s computer-use parole restrictions where it was indisputable that computers were not involved in the underlying offense. The Court was troubled by Hudson’s hasty encryption move, which had prevented authorities from proving, as they were able to in Stevens, that the subject did not have porn on his computer.

Moreover, Hudson’s second criminal offense did involve computer usage. Thus, there was some relation between computer use and Hudson’s past crimes, which made “reasonable” the restrictions so as to prevent future criminality. Since Hudson was permitted to use computers and the Internet if preapproved by his parole officer, the court found such restrictions were not overly broad or repressive. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal reversed the lower court’s earlier grant of writ relief, and ordered that Hudson’s petition be denied. See: In re Hudson, 143 Cal.App.4th 1, 49 Cal.Rptr.3d 74 (Cal.App. 1 Dist. 2006), review denied.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

In re Hudson