A criminal street gang is an ongoing organization with:

  • Three or more individuals
  • A common identifying mark, name, or symbol
  • Its primary activities to complete crimes associated with gang violence
  • Members who engage in crimes either alone or with other gang members

Do I Have to be a Gang Member to be Convicted of Gang Affiliation? 


No, a defendant only has to be accused of taking part in gang activity. This can range from willfully helping a gang member to committing a crime for the gang. California has specific crimes associated with gangs such as robbery, murder, and kidnapping

What Happens If I Am Convicted of Gang Affiliation?

In California, a gang affiliation charge is considered a wobbler, meaning a defendant can face a criminal sentence as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A felony conviction is punishable by 16 months to 4 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. However, the defendant may be eligible for a harsher sentence under the gang affiliation enhancement. 

What is Gang Affiliation Enhancement?

According to the STEP Act (“California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act”), a defendant can receive an additional sentence if they are affiliated with a gang or helped one. If a prosecution can prove a defendant associated with a gang member and was found guilty of a felony, they can receive a harsher sentence. 

What Does a Prosecutor Have to Prove Regarding Gang Affiliation Enhancement?

A prosecutor must prove three things:

  • The defendant committed a felony
  • The crime committed was gang-related
  • The defendant acted with specific intent to assist, promote, or further gang conduct 

What Time Will I Face According to the Gang Affiliation Enhancement?

Overall, punishments for gang affiliation enhancement various on the circumstances, the defendant’s history, and any other mitigating factors. But in general, a defendant will receive the sentence associated with the crime: 

  • Serious felony: five years in prison
  • Violent felony: 10 years in prison
  • Carjacking, home invasion robbery, drive by shooting: 15 years to life
  • Threatening witnesses or victims and extortion: seven years to life 

Should I Contact a Criminal Lawyer?

Yes, contact a California criminal lawyer to understand more about how to fight this gang affiliation charge.