Gangs are considered to be a serious threat to society. Rather than one individual robbing a merchant, for example, gangs are structured and arranged to achieve a specific end. Accordingly, law enforcement agencies have put a lot of effort into mitigating the effect of gangs. One way in which this is accomplished is through the compilation of gang databases, such as CalGang in California. By focusing on known gang members, law enforcement are able to keep closer watch on these individuals in an effort to keep society safe. However, in some cases, individuals may be put on CalGang without notice and without membership in a gang – they have slipped through the cracks. In these cases, it is imperative to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to implement a process for removal from the CalGang database. Unfortunately, inadvertent inclusion on the CalGang database is not as far-fetched as one would think, as this article illustrates. As mentioned in the article, some have claimed that the database encourages racial profiling. A discussion of the CalGang database will follow below.
CalGang, like most State gang databases, is a compilation of individuals who meet a number of criteria which, ostensibly, proves membership in a gang. Unfortunately, membership in a gang is a highly-subjective determination, and each county that participates in CalGang has differing categories for inclusion into the database. This is actually a feature of the program, and not a bug, as law enforcement does not want gang members to hide certain aspects of their lives which would not get them placed on the database. However, there are some factors that are common with most counties, and include the following:
- Admission of gang membership;
- Tattoos depicting gang affiliations;
- Clothing consistent with gang membership;
- Gang graffiti on personal property;
- Identification as a gang member (from another gang member, a rival gang member, a reliable informant, a family member, or another law enforcement agency);
- Association with known gang members, including prior arrests with such individuals; and
- Attendance at gang functions or known gang hangouts.
Removal from CalGang
For instances in which an individual is improperly placed on CalGang, California law allows him/her to petition for removal. As set forth in the statute, the individual must first request removal from the law enforcement agency responsible for placing him/her on the database. This petition gives a court the authority to review the law enforcement agency’s denial. The petition must be filed within 90 days of the denial.
In its review, the court will look at the documentation provided by the law enforcement agency as its basis for denying the individual’s request for removal. If the court determines that the law enforcement agency has failed to establish, by clear and convincing evidence, the individual’s active, associate, or affiliate status of gang membership, the court shall order the law enforcement agency to remove the name of the individual from the gang database. Speaking to an experienced criminal defense attorney can help ensure that an individual’s petition is viable, and will use their skill to ensure that the information in front of the court gives the individual the best chance at success.
Speak to a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have recently discovered that you are listed on the CalGang database, and are curious as to what this means, as well as how and whether you can get yourself off the database, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Manshoory Law Group, APC as soon as possible. The attorneys at our office have years of experience in criminal defense matters, including an understanding of what is involved with someone’s name being added to the CalGang database. The attorneys there are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact them today for an initial consultation.