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

California Sex Offender’s Probation Travel Restrictions Abated

by John E. Dannenberg

Kenneth Smith was convicted of committing a lewd act on his stepdaughter and sentenced to three years in prison, which was suspended in lieu of five years probation. Upon learning that Los Angeles County had a blanket policy disallowing registered sex offenders from leaving the county, even for job-related reasons, he asked the sentencing court for relief.

After the court denied his request because it would present “difficult monitoring problems,” the appellate court ruled that the superior court had failed to consider his particularized needs and that such a “mass treatment approach does not serve either of the goals of probation, public safety or rehabilitation.”

In 2006, Smith pled no contest to one count of violation of Penal Code § 288(a), a registerable sex offense. He lived in Lancaster but his job required him to drive outside the county. For example, he could drive 95 miles to Long Beach, but not 10 miles to Rosamond. Smith filed a motion for modification of conditions of probation to allow him to go where needed on his job, but return home to Lancaster every night. The motion was denied based solely upon Smith’s sex offender status.

The Court of Appeal, citing Penal Code § 1203.1, held that conditions of probation must foster rehabilitation and protect public safety. Restrictions must be “reasonably related to the crime of which the defendant was convicted or to future criminality.” Moreover, restrictions should be narrowly tailored to each probationer, and the sentencing court abuses its discretion when it arbitrarily violates this standard.

The appellate court found that the superior court’s blanket travel restriction failed any measure of particularized consideration for Smith because it was unrelated to his crime and because mere transit across county boundaries did not foretell any danger to the community or potential criminal behavior.

Holding that there was no reasonable relationship between Smith’s crime and the probation restriction, the Court of Appeal ordered the trial court to either fashion a less restrictive condition or remove the travel restriction altogether. See: People v. Smith, 152 Cal.App.4th 1245, 62 Cal.Rptr.3d 316 (Cal.App. 2 Dist., 2007).

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

People v. Smith