The Penalties for Gang-Related Crimes

Gang affiliation is an enhancement

In California’s effort to crack down on gang activity, gang affiliation is an enhancement that prosecutors may add to an underlying criminal charge. When gang affiliation can be proved, then the crime becomes a “gang crime” and individuals convicted of a crime that is deemed to benefit a gang will be punished more severely than offenders convicted for similar crimes. Gang enhancements may be added to most charges including theft, drug sales, battery, burglary, robbery or pimping.

With the gang affiliation enhancement, 10 years is added to the potential sentence for the crime of assault with a deadly weapon. Adding the gang affiliation to the crime of simple assault could add up to four years or less to the potential sentence. Due to the extensive resources the government has dedicated to tackling gang issues, police and prosecutors are often overzealous to charge an offender with a gang crime.

California’s Anti-Gang Law

According to California Penal Code Section 186.22, it is against the law to join and act 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.”

Getting Arrested For Being In A Gang

Jail time is not always the result for being arrested for participation in a gang. The nature of an individual’s activities in a group crime, their age, past criminal history (if any), and the type of crime committed will all determine how prosecutors will seek punishment. In some cases, a plea bargain may allow pleading guilty to a lesser offense. In other cases, the defendant may be able to opt for rehabilitation over jail time and/or other punishments.

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