Friday, March 11, 2016

Court Finds No Error, But Clarifies Interpretation of Standard Supervised Release Conditions

United States v. Muñoz, 2016 WL 502863 (2/9/2016) (NM): The defense argued that each of the twelve standard conditions of supervised release imposed on Muñoz were substantively unreasonable. He pointed out that many of these conditions were vague and did not adequately inform Muñoz as to what he could and could not do. The panel rejected the substantive unreasonableness argument but helpfully defined certain words and phrases in the conditions that may protect our clients against overzealous probation officers. For example, the condition that a person not associate with someone convicted of a felony does not extend to casual or chance meetings. Also a person may invoke his right to remain silent although a standard condition requires him to answer truthfully the questions put to him by the probation officer. The panel interpreted the condition that the person support dependents and meet other family obligations to mean that family members who rely on him for “financial support” must be “provide[d] with a home and the necessities of life.” Regarding notifying the probation officer at least 10 days before any change in residence or employment, the panel said the person must give notice “of an event only if he foresees it.” Finally, the condition that a person not frequent places where controlled substances are sold illegally or distributed forbids a person from going to such places “only if he knows that drugs are used or sold there.” The panel was not so helpful with the other standard conditions. However, the sentencing commission has proposed amendments to the standard conditions which more accurately define the proscribed conduct. They are available here.