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Release Conditions Requiring Defendant to Tell Probation Officer about Romantic Relationships Vacated

On January 7, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated a condition of supervised release that required a federal defendant to notify probation officials each time he entered into a “significant romantic relationship.” A related condition that required the defendant to inform anyone he was romantically involved with about his conviction also was vacated.
Lamont Reeves was convicted of theft of Social Security funds and possession of child pornography, and sentenced to 40 months in prison plus five years on supervised release. After sentencing, without prior notice to any of the parties, the district court imposed a special condition of supervised release that required Reeves to “notify the Probation Depart-ment when he establishe[d] a significant romantic relationship and ... inform the other party of his prior criminal history concerning his sex offenses.” Additionally, Reeves was required to give probation officials any “significant other’s address, age, and where the individual may be contacted.”

On appeal, the Second Circuit held those requirements were unreasonably vague and inconsistent with statutory limits on special conditions of supervised release. The requirement that Reeves notify the Probation Department upon entering into a “sig-nificant romantic relationship” was unduly vague, the appellate court wrote, because it lacked any “guidance as to what constitutes a ‘significant romantic relationship.’”

Further, the conditions were not “reasonably related” to any statutory sentencing objectives. In fact, the Court of Ap-peals concluded, they would most likely impair Reeves’ rehabilitation because they risked socially isolating him. The Court also found that the conditions unduly infringed on Reeves’ First Amendment associational rights. The special conditions of supervised release were accordingly vacated. See: United States v. Reeves, 591 F.3d 77 (2d Cir. 2010).

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Related legal case

United States v. Reeves