In an effort to reduce and prevent crime, state governments utilize a number of options to control and track behavior. One example in California, specifically geared towards group criminal activity, is CalGang, California’s gang database. Placement on a gang database like CalGang is usually the result of the commission of a violent crime as part of a group. While having a database of known gang members, similar to the federal government’s no-fly list, sounds good in theory, unfortunately, implementation and operation of such a list has been disappointing and fraught with error. In some cases, innocent people, including infants, have been placed on CalGang, and former members have not been removed from the list. Recently, a petition was filed, in which a former gang member, allegedly gang free for more than a decade, tried to have his name removed from CalGang. Unfortunately, the petition was denied. However, this is a reality for a number of people on CalGang. A brief introduction to CalGang, as well as strategies as to what to do if you find out you are on the list, will follow below.
CalGang, In General
CalGang is a criminal intelligence system used by various Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in California. Developed in the late 1990s, CalGang allows LEAs to input information on suspected gang members, such as their names, their associated gang memberships, and the information that led the LEAs to deduce that the person is allegedly part of a gang. LEAs claim that a person’s inclusion in CalGang provides them with information about a member’s interaction with other gang members and with other LEAs throughout California, as well as facilitating collaboration with other LEAs in the prosecution of gang-related crimes. Additionally, information in CalGang is accessible to LEAs in other states that use comparable systems, as well as the FBI, the BATF, and ICE.
Under pressure from privacy advocates and based on an analysis that found errors in CalGang implementation, in 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law allowing persons listed on CalGang to be informed of that fact, as well as providing a means by which such a person can petition for removal. Pursuant to law, LEAs are required to remove a person from CalGang if there is no evidence he/she has been associated or involved with a gang for five years or more.
What To Do If You Are On CalGang
As noted above, if one believes one is improperly on CalGang, either because he/she has never been in a gang or has left a gang more than five years ago, one can file a petition for removal within 90 days of being informed of his/her listing. Hearing the petition does not take the form of a formal trial, but is rather conducted as a limited civil case, in which the petitioner submits evidence indicating that he/she is no longer an active member of a gang, or never was a member in the first place.
The court hearing this petition will review both the information presented by the LEA when the petition was added to CalGang, as well as the evidence presented by the petitioner. If the court determines that the LEA has failed, by clear and convincing evidence, to establish the petitioner’s active gang membership, or associate or affiliate status in an active gang, then the court will order the LEA to remove the petitioner from CalGang.
However, as the case cited above indicates, the chances of success in such a petition are not great. Thus, it is imperative that anyone in this situation retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will know exactly what type of evidence will prove inclusion on the CalGang list is not justified under the legally-required clear and convincing standard (i.e., more highly probable to be true than not).
Improper inclusion in CalGang should not be tackled alone. Rather, your best strategy is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to aggressively combat an LEA’s contentions about alleged gang involvement. If you have been wrongly included, the Los Angeles Manshoory Law Group, APC will use their years of experience and strive to get you off this list. Attorneys are available 24/7. Contact us to schedule a consultation.