Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Probation Requirement To Stay Away From Church Is Too Broad

In People v. Saltekoff, (CA App., Nov. 30, 2016), a California appellate court reversed and remanded to the trial court a condition of probation imposed on Jonathan Saltekoff who pleaded guilty to attempted kidnapping of a 9-month old infant. The trial court had required that Saltekoff stay at least 100 yards away from Bethel Church, the church to which Saltekoff's parents belonged.  It was also the church in which the kidnapping victim's family was very active, and they did not want to have to worry about Saltekoff showing up. The appeals court said:
Here, we assume the challenged condition burdens defendant’s exercise of religion, because it bars him completely from going to his family’s church. This bar is in place regardless of whether the victim is present or not. The record supports a restriction on defendant’s occupying the same space as the victim at any given time, but it likely does not support banning defendant from his family’s church absent the victim’s presence there. Of course, the church itself may choose to place limits and restrictions on its attendees. But government restrictions on defendant’s free exercise of his religion must be narrowly tailored to support a compelling state interest.