In United States v. Wroblewski, issued on May 24, 2013, the Eighth Circuit reversed a condition of Wroblewski’s supervised release that required him to steer clear of his girlfriend’s family, while upholding a condition prohibiting him from contact with his girlfriend. The case is a notable example of supervised release conditions that exceed permissible parameters.

18 U.S.C. § 3583(d)(1), requires that supervised release conditions be “reasonably related” to the sentencing factors set forth in § 3553(a), including the circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s history and characteristics, and the public’s interest in deterrence. Here, Wroblewski’s underlying conviction was for possession of firearms and ammunition following a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. The instant case involved his sentence for supervised release violations, one of which related to an altercation with his girlfriend. Given Mr. Wroblewski’s “history of domestic violence against women,” the Circuit held that the supervised release condition prohibiting Mr. Wroblewski from having contact with his girlfriend was “reasonably related to the relevant sentencing factors” and was “not a ‘greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary’ to protect the public and deter future criminal behavior.”

Not so, the condition relating to the girlfriend’s family, about which the record showed “no problematic instances involving Mr. Wroblewski.” The district court failed to explain “why prohibiting contact with the family would help prevent future harm to anyone” and the prohibition against Mr. Wroblewski contacting his girlfriend already “proscribe[d] his using the family members as intermediaries to contact her upon his release.”