Additional, consecutive time with the gang affiliation enhancement

Gang affiliation is an enhancement that prosecutors will add to an underlying criminal charge that allows judges to impose longer and stricter sentences for crimes committed by gang members. If gang affiliation can be proved, then the crime becomes a “gang crime” and the potential penalties may increase substantially. Additionally, Section 186.22(d) allows prosecutors to turn any misdemeanor into a felony if the misdemeanor was perpetrated in furtherance of, for the benefit of, or at the direction of a criminal gang.

A judge may add additional, consecutive time to the maximum penalty for crimes if it is found that the defendant committed the crime as a result of gang membership. For the crime of assault with a deadly weapon, the gang affiliation enhancement adds an additional 10 years to the potential sentence. Adding the gang affiliation to the crime of simple assault could add up to four years or less to the potential sentence.

California law specifically forbids people from joining and acting in concert with crime gangs. The code states:

“Any person who 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 one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years.”

The Criminal Intelligence System and gang activity

Gang activity is heavily monitored in California on both state and local levels. The state funds the CalGang® system, which is maintained by local law enforcement, and operates the Criminal Intelligence System that specifically targets members and criminal associates of criminal street gangs. Utilizing such resources, authorities continue to put heavy emphasis on arresting and prosecuting alleged gang members. More than 1,400 street gangs exist in Los Angeles County. The L.A. County sheriff’s department reports about half of all homicides involve street gangs, averaging more than 250 deaths per year.

If you have been charged with any type of crime and the prosecutor’s office has added a gang affiliation enhancement, the assistance and counsel of a knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense lawyer is vitally important.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman