IN RE: JAMONT C.

Reset A A Font size: Print

Court of Appeal, Sixth District, California.

IN RE: JAMONT C., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. The PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. JAMONT C., Defendant and Appellant.

No. H009853.

Decided: March 11, 1993

Alisa J. Kim, San Francisco, for appellant and defendant. Daniel E. Lungren, Atty. Gen., George Williamson, Chief Asst. Atty. Gen., Ronald A. Bass, Sr. Asst. Atty. Gen., Violet M. Leet and Donna B. Chew, Deputies Atty. Gen., for respondent and plaintiff.

Appellant challenges the breadth of a probation search condition imposed on him by the juvenile court when it declared him a ward of the court pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code section 602.1  He does not challenge the propriety of the imposition of the probation search condition or the constitutionality of permitting searches to be conducted pursuant thereto where reasonable suspicion exists.   He claims only that the probation condition is unconstitutionally intrusive on his Fourth Amendment rights to the extent that it permits searches without individualized suspicion.

The Fourth Amendment rights of adult probationers are not violated by searches conducted without warrants and without individualized suspicion where the adult is subject to a valid probation search condition because adult probationers consent to such searches when they accept probation.  (People v. Bravo (1987) 43 Cal.3d 600, 608–611, 238 Cal.Rptr. 282, 738 P.2d 336.)   In contrast, juveniles may not refuse probation and therefore do not consent to searches pursuant to probation search conditions.  (In re Wayne J. (1979) 97 Cal.App.3d 776, 780, 159 Cal.Rptr. 106;  In re Nathaniel Z. (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 1132, 1140, 232 Cal.Rptr. 378;  In re Binh L. (1992) 5 Cal.App.4th 194, 202, 6 Cal.Rptr.2d 678.)

Nonconsensual searches are permitted in the absence of individualized suspicion only where the individual's right to privacy is outweighed by the government interest which supports the search and there are sufficient safeguards to delimit the discretion of law enforcement officers.   (Delaware v. Prouse (1979) 440 U.S. 648, 654, 99 S.Ct. 1391, 1396, 59 L.Ed.2d 660.)

We find that the balance of competing interests favors, and the presence of safeguards supports, allowing searches pursuant to juvenile probation search conditions in the absence of individualized suspicion.

DISCUSSION

 A probation condition which encroaches upon constitutionally protected rights is subject to special scrutiny.  (People v. Keller (1978) 76 Cal.App.3d 827, 839, 143 Cal.Rptr. 184;  People v. Pointer (1984) 151 Cal.App.3d 1128, 1139, 199 Cal.Rptr. 357.)   Since an adult probationer has the right to refuse probation, his or her acceptance of an order of probation which carries with it a search and seizure condition constitutes a waiver of Fourth Amendment rights in exchange for the benefit of avoiding a state prison term.   (People v. Bravo, supra, 43 Cal.3d at pp. 608–609, 238 Cal.Rptr. 282, 738 P.2d 336.)

 However, a juvenile's “acceptance” of probation does not constitute a waiver of Fourth Amendment rights because a juvenile has no right to refuse probation.  (In re Binh L., supra, 5 Cal.App.4th at p. 202, 6 Cal.Rptr.2d 678.)   Consequently, intrusions on a juvenile's Fourth Amendment rights by the imposition of a probation search condition are constitutionally valid only to the extent that such intrusions are justified by legitimate governmental interests.  (Griffin v. Wisconsin (1987) 483 U.S. 868, 873, 107 S.Ct. 3164, 3168, 97 L.Ed.2d 709;  New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985) 469 U.S. 325, 337, 105 S.Ct. 733, 740, 83 L.Ed.2d 720;  Camara v. Municipal Court (1967) 387 U.S. 523, 528, 87 S.Ct. 1727, 1730, 18 L.Ed.2d 930;  In re Binh L., supra, 5 Cal.App.4th at p. 204, 6 Cal.Rptr.2d 678.)

“[T]he permissibility of a particular law enforcement practice is judged by balancing its intrusion on the individual's Fourth Amendment interests against its promotion of legitimate governmental interests.   Implemented in this manner, the reasonableness standard usually requires, at a minimum, that the facts upon which an intrusion is based be capable of measurement against ‘an objective standard,’ whether this be probable cause or a less stringent test.   In those situations in which the balance of interests precludes insistence upon ‘some quantum of individualized suspicion,’ other safeguards are generally relied upon to assure that the individual's reasonable expectation of privacy is not ‘subject to the discretion of the official in the field.’  [Citations.]”  (Delaware v. Prouse, supra, 440 U.S. at pp. 654–655, 99 S.Ct. at pp. 1396–1397, fns. omitted, emphasis added.)  “The determination of the standard of reasonableness governing any specific class of searches requires ‘balancing the need to search against the invasion which the search entails.’  [Citation.]  On one side of the balance are arrayed the individual's legitimate expectations of privacy and personal security;  on the other, the government's need for effective methods to deal with breaches of public order.”  (New Jersey v. T.L.O., supra, 469 U.S. at p. 337, 105 S.Ct. at p. 740.) 2

The state's operation of a probation system implicates “special needs” which justify warrantless searches on less than probable cause.  (Griffin v. Wisconsin, supra, 483 U.S. at pp. 873–874, 107 S.Ct. at pp. 3168–3169.)   The protection against invasions of privacy offered by the warrant and probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment which probationers would otherwise enjoy is outweighed by the government's legitimate interests in rehabilitating probationers and protecting the public from further victimization.3  (Id. at pp. 874–875, 107 S.Ct. at pp. 3168–3169.)

 The question here is whether, with respect to juvenile probationers, the state's interests justify permitting searches pursuant to lawful probation search conditions in the absence of some objectively measurable quantity of individualized suspicion.   We conclude that such searches are justified by the state's interest in promoting the health and welfare of minors.4  (Cf. In re Roger S., supra, 19 Cal.3d at p. 928, 141 Cal.Rptr. 298, 569 P.2d 1286;  In re William G. (1985) 40 Cal.3d 550, 558, fn. 6, 221 Cal.Rptr. 118, 709 P.2d 1287.)  “A democratic society rests, for its continuance, upon the healthy, well-rounded growth of young people into full maturity as citizens, with all that implies.”  (Prince v. Massachusetts, supra, 321 U.S. at p. 168, 64 S.Ct. at p. 443;  accord Ginsberg v. New York (1968) 390 U.S. 629, 640, 88 S.Ct. 1274, 1281, 20 L.Ed.2d 195.)  “Minor's rights may be legitimately restricted to serve the state's interest in promoting the health and welfare of children.”  (In re William G., supra, 40 Cal.3d at p. 558, fn. 6, 221 Cal.Rptr. 118, 709 P.2d 1287.)   Juveniles may become involved in activities which, while not criminal in their initiation, evolve into criminal activities which threaten the juvenile's health and welfare.   The state is properly interested in ensuring that juvenile probationers, who have already once selected the wrong path, make proper choices which will guide their development into productive adult citizens.   “․ Minors under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a consequence of delinquent conduct shall, in conformity with the interests of public safety and protection, receive care, treatment and guidance which is consistent with their best interest, which holds them accountable for their behavior, and which is appropriate for their circumstances․”  (Welf. & Inst.Code, § 202, subd. (b).)

The guidance which the juvenile probation system offers goes beyond the mere prevention of criminal activity and enters the arena of social guidance.   (Cf.Welf. & Inst.Code, § 727.)   In fact, “proceedings before the juvenile court ․ are not criminal in nature.”  (People v. Dotson (1956) 46 Cal.2d 891, 895, 299 P.2d 875;  Welf. & Inst.Code, § 203.)   The goal of such proceedings is the provision of “corrective care, supervision and training” to minors who have violated the law along with rehabilitative punishment where punishment is necessary to guide the juvenile's development.  (People v. Dotson, supra, 46 Cal.2d at p. 895, 299 P.2d 875;  Welf. & Inst.Code, § 202, subd. (b).)  The state's involvement in guiding juvenile delinquents along the path to productive citizenship justifies relaxing the barriers to effective supervision of these juveniles.   An individualized suspicion requirement for searches pursuant to juvenile probation search conditions would thwart the state's efforts.   Consequently, the balance of interests favors obviation of any individualized suspicion requirement for searches pursuant to juvenile probation search conditions.

 Even where the balance of interests justifies searches in the absence of individualized suspicion, invasions of constitutionally protected rights are only allowed if there are built-in safeguards to prevent the exercise of unfettered discretion by law enforcement officers.  (Delaware v. Prouse, supra, 440 U.S. at p. 654, 99 S.Ct. at p. 1396.)   A juvenile probation search condition may only be imposed where the facts of the offense and the juvenile's history reflect that the condition is related to either the current offense or the juvenile's future criminality.  (People v. Lent (1975) 15 Cal.3d 481, 486, 124 Cal.Rptr. 905, 541 P.2d 545;  People v. Dominguez (1967) 256 Cal.App.2d 623, 627, 64 Cal.Rptr. 290;  In re Frankie J. (1988) 198 Cal.App.3d 1149, 1153, 244 Cal.Rptr. 254.)   Furthermore, even in the absence of individualized suspicion, a juvenile probation search condition does not justify a search which is not related to legitimate state interest or which is undertaken for harassment purposes or for arbitrary or capricious reasons.  (People v. Bravo, supra, 43 Cal.3d at pp. 610–611, 238 Cal.Rptr. 282, 738 P.2d 336;  In re Binh L., supra, 5 Cal.App.4th at p. 206, 6 Cal.Rptr.2d 678.)   Since these safeguards delimit the discretion of law enforcement officers and the state has a compelling interest in the health and welfare of juvenile probationers which controls the balance of interests, there is no need for a standard of individualized suspicion as a requirement for utilization of a juvenile probation search condition.   The juvenile probation search condition herein imposed is constitutionally valid.

DISPOSITION

The judgment is affirmed.

FOOTNOTES

1.   The probation condition required appellant to “submit his person, property, residence, or any vehicle owned by said minor or under said minor's control to search and seizure at any time of the day or night by any peace officer or school official, with or without a Warrant.”

2.   In New Jersey v. T.L.O., supra, 469 U.S. at pages 339–342, 105 S.Ct. at pages 741–743, the United States Supreme Court applied this balancing test to the privacy rights of school children in the physical context of a school and concluded that the Fourth Amendment demanded only that the school official have a reasonable suspicion that the child had broken a school rule or a law in order to justify a search of the child or the child's possessions.

3.   Since requiring a warrant would interfere with the purposes of the probation system by reducing the deterrent effect of expeditious searches, the U.S. Supreme Court held that it was reasonable to dispense with the warrant requirement.  (Griffin v. Wisconsin, supra, 483 U.S. at pp. 876–877, 107 S.Ct. at pp. 3169–3170.)   The probable cause requirement was also found to unduly disrupt the probation system.  (Id. at p. 878, 107 S.Ct. at p. 3171.)   Because the information triggering a probation search is available to the probation officer as a result of his or her ongoing supervisory relationship with the probationer, “it is both unrealistic and destructive of the whole object of the continuing probation relationship to insist upon the same degree of demonstrable reliability of particular items of supporting data, and upon the same degree of certainty of violation, as is required in other contexts.”  (Id. at p. 879, 107 S.Ct. at p. 3171.)

4.   “ ‘ “[T]he power of the state to control the conduct of children reaches beyond the scope of its authority over adults.” ’  (Ginsberg v. New York (1968) 390 U.S. 629, 638 [88 S.Ct. 1274, 1280, 20 L.Ed.2d 195];  Prince v. Massachusetts (1944) 321 U.S. 158, 170 [64 S.Ct. 438, 444, 88 L.Ed. 645].)”  (In re Roger S. (1977) 19 Cal.3d 921, 928, 141 Cal.Rptr. 298, 569 P.2d 1286.)

PREMO, Associate Justice.

COTTLE, P.J., and ELIA, J., concur.