Ban on teen using the internet is ruled unconstitutional

A Californian appeals court has rejected as unconstitutional probation conditions that banned a 15-year-old who was convicted of possessing a stolen motorcycle from using a computer or the internet for any purpose other than school work.

Last week the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District ruled on the the case of the defendant identified as J.J. In addition to being required to complete a drug treatment program, he was ordered to delete any existing MySpace or Facebook pages, prohibited from using any instant messaging program and barred from using a computer for any purpose other than school-related assignments.

The three-judge panel noted that juvenile courts have greater latitude in formulating the terms of minors’ probation than courts overseeing adult probationers. Even so, they said constitutional guarantees require terms imposed on minors to be closely tailored to the offense for which they are convicted.

The judges said the decision “is not tailored to J.J.’s conviction for receiving stolen property, his history of drug abuse, or the juvenile court’s dual goals of rehabilitation and public safety … there is no support for the People’s claim that [the restriction] is properly related to future criminality. Accordingly, we strike the condition as unconstitutionally overbroad.”