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California: No-Gang-Contact Probation Condition Struck Down

On October 24, 2012, the California Court of Appeal modified a no-gang-contact condition of probation placed on a defendant who had pleaded no contest to possessing methamphetamine. The appellate court held that because neither the defendant nor his family had any ties to gangs, and the defendant’s criminal history was unconnected to gang activity, the probation condition imposed by the trial court was not reasonably related to a risk that he would reoffend.

After pleading no contest but objecting to the no-gang-contact condition of his probation, António Brandão challenged the condition on appeal, arguing that it infringed on his First Amendment rights and constituted an abuse of discretion.

The Court of Appeal concluded that state law “stopp[ed] short of authorizing conditions [that] shield probationers from exposure to people and circumstances that are less than ideal but are nonetheless unrelated to defendant’s current or prior offenses or any factor suggesting a risk of future criminal conduct.”

Finding that the trial court had abused its discretion on state law grounds, the Court of Appeal held it was unnecessary to address Brandão’s claim that the no-gang-contact condition also violated his right to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment – a claim that would have required the Court to subject the condition to closer scrutiny. See: People v. Brandão, 210 Cal. App. 4th 568, 148 Cal. Rptr. 3d 426 (Cal. App. 6th Dist. 2012), review denied.

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Related legal case

People v. Brandão