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.