By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor.
There was an interesting case last month before the Washington Supreme Court where the court was asked to determine the admissibility of evidence obtained during the defendants’ booking process related to criminal street gang affiliation.
Defendants in the case, Ricardo Juarez Deleon, Anthony Deleon, and Octavio Robledo moved to suppress evidence gathered by the state obtained through questions relating to the alleged involvement in gang activity while in the furtherance of a crime, a sentencing enhancement and a status in of itself that can be in violation of law or subject a defendant to revocation of probation and other court imposed restrictions.
A legitimate state purpose exists in asking arrestees if they are gang-affiliated or have hostility toward other inmates for the purpose of order and the safety of staff and the inmate population. It is well known that members of rival gangs housed together lead to a probability of fighting and disruption. A question remains if an arrestee should a choice between answering that they are gang-affiliated to secure a protection through separate housing and remaining silent and face retaliation from other inmates. The petitioners argue this constitutes duress where they are unlawfully required to make incriminating statements to protect their safety.