Can anyone out there explain the constitutionality of the Chris Brown plea deal? Brown pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault based upon his attack of Rihanna, and he got five years of probation and community labor. The judge also entered a no-contact/stay away order against Brown under which he is to stay at least 50 yards away from Rihanna and not have contact with her for five years (unless the two are at the same industry function, in which case he is to stay at least 10 yards away). But here’s the weird part: The judge also “told Rihanna that the order is ‘really two-ways,’ meaning that Rihanna must stay away from Brown just as he must stay away from her.”
How can the judge do this? Judges in California can issue no-contact or stay away orders in criminal cases pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1203.1(a), which states in relevant part that
The court, or judge thereof, in the order granting probation, may suspend the imposing or the execution of the sentence and may direct that the suspension may continue for a period of time not exceeding the maximum possible sentence, except as hereinafter set forth, and upon those terms and conditions as it shall determine. See, e.g., People v. Gaytan, 2009 WL 1349196 (Cal.App. 3 Dist. 2009).
Under this Section, we can clearly see how the judge could impose a stay away order against Brown. But, how could she impose it against Rihanna, who was neither a party in the criminal action against Brown, nor, obviously, someone whom the judge was giving probation?
After doing research, I found some family law cases where there have been mutual stay away orders, but in those cases, both of the individuals involved were parties subject to the court’s orders, which were governed by California’s Family Code, not its Penal Code. See, e.g., People v. Gaytan, 2009 WL 1349196 (Cal.App. 3 Dist. 2009).
But does anyone know the authority for imposing the stay away order against Rihanna? And while I see how it makes some sense on a practical level, does anyone else find it disturbing that Rihanna is being punished (at least on some level) for being attacked, with (I’m guessing) the prospect of criminal penalties being imposed against her if she comes close to Brown?
UPDATE (6/26/09; 8:13 P.M. CDT): I just spoke with Rihanna’s attorney, Donald Etra, and it seems as if, as some of you speculated in the comments, this is another case of the media being way off on the reporting of a legal story. Etra told me that the court had no jurisdiction over Rihanna, so it was simply the judge deciding to admonish her to honor the stay away order, even though it does not legally bind her