A gang injunction is a civil lawsuit requesting a restraining order against a group. It declares the group’s behavior a nuisance and asks for special restrictions on their activity. The suit names individual gang members, specifies a certain geographical area (often labeled as a “safety zone”) where the injunction applies and lists the exact activities gang members are prohibited from doing. Prohibited activities often include: wearing certain clothing, acting as lookouts, fighting, and taking illegal narcotics.
Some activities listed in injunctions are already illegal, but their inclusion in the injunction means that violators can be held in “contempt of court.” This means that on top of whatever sentence they would receive for the illegal activity, additional sanctions would be imposed for violating the court’s direct order.
No, gang injunctions do not prevent the named individuals from entering the “safety zone” entirely; they only prohibit certain behaviors within the specified area.
Violations of gang injunctions are treated as violations of court orders. This means that violations are punishable by fines and jail time. In California, a violation is punishable by up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
An individual named in a gang injunction suit can always fight the injunction in court. In gang injunction cases, the burden of proof is on the governing body trying to impose the injunction, to prove that the injunction is necessary. If a court does impose the injunction and the individual would like it removed, they can petition the court for removal or go through an opt-out process.
The opt-out processes often involve submitting a petition for removal and undergoing an interview with the District Attorney. The petition includes information about any employment or scholastic history which provides evidence of non-involvement in gang activities. The District Attorney will review all available evidence and make a decision whether or not to remove the injunction from the individual.
Having a gang injunction placed on you is a serious restriction on your ability to associate with people and visit locations in your community. It is highly recommended that you hire a criminal lawyer as soon as you are notified of any pending gang injunction proceedings.