Assumptions of gang involvement are an all too common occurrence for many people of color. It can happen on the street or even in the halls of their school building.
These accusations might be common, but they can pose a serious risk to individuals and their futures.
Accusations could increase charges and penalties significantly
In the event that you face criminal charges, an accusation of being in a gang could enhance the penalties you face. New Jersey grades many criminal charges one degree higher if they involve gang criminality.
Therefore, even a mere accusation of being in a gang is very serious.
Gang databases pose a serious risk too
Many law enforcement officials assume that an individual is in a gang based on unrelated – and often stereotypical – factors, including:
- If they have tattoos
- The people they spend time with
- Where they live
- The type of car they drive
- Even the clothing they wear
Officials often jump to conclusions about gang affiliation based on someone’s race or ethnicity as well. And the databases only perpetuate this profiling.
Many states – including New Jersey – have gang databases. These databases are controversial for many reasons, including:
- They use similar factors as those listed above, which can mark someone for surveillance
- Individuals often only must meet a few criteria to be added to the database
- It is very difficult to get off such databases
Even an accusation of gang activity or affiliation could lead to an entry on New Jersey’s database – and a complex situation for individuals. These accusations are serious, and individuals must make sure they know how to protect their rights effectively if they face them.