When an individual is alleged to be a gang member, charges and penalties will be far more serious and severe. Generally, the Prosecutor will add a “gang enhancement” of the original charge based upon an allegation that the defendant is affiliated with a gang. Non-gang members can be labeled as belonging to a gang just for associating with certain friends or acquaintances who are gang members. Therefore, it is crucial that you contact a criminal defense attorney to fight for you.
California Penal Code § 186.22 is a law that was passed as part of the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act. In sum, the code makes it a crime to actively participates in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed 1 year, or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or 2 or 3 years.
Moreover, anyone who is convicted of a felony committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang with the intent to promote, further or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members shall, upon conviction, also be sentenced as follows:
- If the crime is committed on the grounds of, or within 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary school, vocational school, junior high school or high school during hours in which the facility is open for classes or school- related programs or when minors are using the facility, upon conviction, by an increased sentence at the discretion of the Judge.
- By an additional 2, 3 or 4 years at the discretion of the Judge.
- If the felony is a serious felony, by an additional 5 years.
- If the felony is a violent felony, by an additional 10 years.
- If the felony is a home-invasion robbery, carjacking, shooting into an inhabited dwelling or shooting from a motor vehicle, upon conviction, by an additional 15 years.
- If the crime is murder and the murder occurred while doing a drive-by, upon conviction it is an automatic life sentence or the death penalty.
It is common for prosecutors and police officers to allege gang affiliation, even when the individual is not a gang member. These allegations have lasting and harsh ramifications on the individual. It is crucial that the defendant fight this type of allegation because the government will continuously hold the individual out to be a “gang member,” resulting in harsher treatment throughout their life. If you or a loved one is under investigation or charged with a crime, it is important to contact a criminal attorney that is competent in handling these matters. Call the Law Office of Brett Parker Davison for a free consultation today!