A gang is an organization, group, or association of three or more people. It can be informal or formal.

What Is a Youth Gang?

A youth gang fits the same criteria as a typical adult gang. The only difference is the group is made of members of a specific age group that are generally under the age of majority.

What Is the Criteria for a Group of Kids to Be Called a Gang?

A youth gang is classified as a group or organization:

  • That has three or more members ranging in age from 12 to 24 years old
  • Whose members in the gang share identifying name or symbols to show their affiliation to the group
  • Whose members view themselves as gang members
  • That engages in some form of criminal activity
  • That operates on some level as an organization

Can Criminal Activity Include Graffiti and Vandalism?

Yes. Graffiti is the act of painting, etching, scratching or drawing on property. This is also called tagging. Vandalism is the act of damaging property that belongs to someone else. Both graffiti and vandalism are crimes that are frequently associated with youth gangs.

Does the Definition of a Gang Vary from State to State?

Yes, each state has its own definition of what a gang is and what a youth gang is.

Is Every Youth Gang Considered a Violent Gang?

No. Gang violence refers to criminal and non-criminal acts of violence. This violence is committed by a group who consider themselves a gang. For a youth gang to be considered a violent youth gang, criminal activities they engage in typically consist of:

  • Felonies involving conflicting bodily harm on someone
  • Threatening or intimidating witnesses
  • Extortion
  • Sex crimes

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am Accused of Being in a Youth Gang?

Youth gangs can become engaged in serious criminal activities that are normally associated with adult gangs. Even if you do not actively participate in your gang’s criminal activities, you may still be found guilty of the crimes through conspiracy. It is in your best interest to contact a juvenile lawyer if you or someone you know has been accused of being in a youth gang.