A one-year old gang-free zone in Tulare County is being challenged as unconstitutional. According to the Fresno Bee, Deputy Public Defender William Pernik is challenging the one-year old gang-free zone in a trial set to commence August 8, 2011. Pernik informed the Fresno Bee that the gang-free zone covers too much territory and that it is almost impossible for an innocent person to obtain relief if wrongfully served with a notice by law enforcement.
Gang-free zones are not new to the Central Valley. Since 2003 the zones have been enacted throughout the Valley and are credited with cutting violent felony crimes by 70%. The gang-free zones work by precluding gang members and associates from meeting in public and conducting other activities. According to a representative from the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the gang-free zones fight gang activity by declaring a gang to be a public nuisance within a certain area. Individuals served with a notice will be arrested if they violate the order.
The Fresno Bee also reported that Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims has observed a significant reduction in crime since the gang-free zones were established in Fresno County. Mims was reported saying, “If the gang members do not like it, I don’t have a problem with that.” Members from the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California believe that the gang-free zones give law enforcement too much unchecked power.
Gang-free zones will continue to impact the lives of citizens throughout the Central Valley in the years to come. The gang-free zones have been found to be constitutional in many instances. If you or a loved one is currently being affected by a gang-free zone in Fresno, Madera, or Tulare County, you should contact an experienced Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney today.
We can assist you in determining if your constitutional rights have been violated and advise you as to what steps, if any, you can take in the future to ensure that your freedom to associate is not wrongfully infringed upon.