3 reasons it’s important to document gang contacts

Like we learned in the academy, if it isn’t documented it didn’t happen

As a gang investigator in California I often feel that I am on the front lines of new case law and legal defense techniques used to counter successful gang prosecutions. In recent years the pendulum has swung in favor of the gangsters, to the detriment of law enforcement.

A few relatively recent negative developments — one, a state Supreme Court decision and the other a legal defense strategy — have highlighted the need for doing thorough documentation and gang contacts. 

The need to document
First, let’s address that state Supreme Court decision in People v. Prunty. The court found you have to prove a subset of a gang committed a crime rather than argue that the umbrella organization is responsible for it. In other words, you can no longer say a crime was committed for the benefit of the Norteno criminal street gang. Rather, you have to show how it benefited whatever subset committed the crime.

So if three C Street Nortenos commit a robbery, in California you have to show how it specifically benefits the C Street Norteno gang. You can’t just say it benefits the Norteno gang as a whole. This becomes problematic when Nortenos from different crews, cliques, or subsets commit crimes together (as they often do). This is now our cross to bear in California and hopefully it won’t happen in other states.

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