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But Joe Capobianco, a tattoo artist in New Haven, Connecticut, and a judge on the Oxygen Network television show “Best Ink,” said there is definitely “an unwritten code.”

Although he’s never been put in such a position - he has a personal policy of not doing gang tattoos or designs that represent crimes - the code is clear.

“One does not … rat on one’s clients,” he said.

Julio Rodriguez, an artist in Capobianco’s shop, agreed.

“The stories I’m told are confidential and told to me in confidence, and that goes for even the cops I tattoo too!” he said in an email. “I hear both sides of the coin good and bad.”

Messages seeking comment were left for Hernandez’s lawyers. They have said Hernandez looks forward to proving his innocence.

Hernandez has said all his tattoos have personal meaning. The stars on his right forearm surround a tattoo depicting being in God’s hands, which he told USA Today in 2009 was meant as a nod to his older brother and late father.

The motto frequently used by his father, “If it is to be it is up to me,” holds special meaning, he told WBZ-TV in Boston.

“It’s basically saying my life’s in my hands, and whatever I want my life to be it’s up to me to make it out that way,” he said.