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Broad Sex-offender Probation Condition Rejected for Failure to Provide Sufficient Guidance, But Polygraph Requirement Condition Allowed

In State v. Campbell, 2015 VT 50 (March 27, 2015), the Vermont Supreme Court rejected a broad sex-offender probation condition that did not provide sufficient guidance to probation officers, but allowed a requirement that the defendant undergo polygraphs to be used for non-evidentiary purposes.

Issue: Defendant appealed sex-offender probation conditions #42 (polygraph requirements) and #44 (probation officer’s approval of home and work) on the grounds that it did not serving a legitimate purpose related to his rehabilitation or public safety and that it was overly broad and unduly restrictive.

Holding: The Court affirmed Condition #42, which requires the defendant undergo polygraph examinations for non-evidentiary uses. The Court held that this condition is reasonably related to the crime for which the defendant was convicted because it will help ensure public safety and that it is not unnecessarily harsh or excessive. The Court remanded on Condition #44, which requires the probation officer’s approval of the defendant’s home and work. It held this condition cannot be imposed without more precise standards to guide the probation officer’s approval decision where the trial court can anticipate relevant issues.

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