Man holding a handgun.California has taken many progressive steps in the past toward preventing gang crimes in the state, all the way from instilling helpful programs to increasing the penalties for those who engage in these harmful activities. For instance, California came up with the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention (STEP) Act, which eradicates criminal gang conduct in many ways. In another effort, California released laws regarding firearms and ammunition in 1992 that stated that these items would be confiscated by law enforcement agencies or peace officers if they were found in the hands of gang members.

There are many laws that focus solely on gang members and punish them for their heinous and dangerous crimes. For instance, if you are actively participating in a criminal street gang, you could be punished for your crimes. However, you first had to have known that its members were actively engaging in criminal activity to receive either a misdemeanor or felony. If you were promoting or assisting in criminal conduct by gang members, you could be punished by an additional term in county jail or state prison.

Sentence Enhancement 

If you have been charged with a gang-related crime, you can also be charged with something known as sentence enhancement. This also applies for those who have engaged in activity that was for the benefit of a gang. Here are some of the different penalties that apply:

Generic Felonies: If you have committed one of these crimes, then a sentence enhancement could put your sentencing into the realm of an additional term of two, three, or four years based on the court’s opinion.

Serious Felonies: The person will be punished by an additional term of five years. 

Violent Felonies: The person will be punished by an additional term of 10 years.

Commission On or Near School Grounds: If a crime is committed within 1,000 feet of a public or private elementary or high school, a sentence enhancement may apply. 

Of course, there are many more crimes that can receive sentence enhancers if it applies to the situation and what exactly occurred. For instance, if you have invaded somebody’s home, carjacked, or played a part in an extortion crime, you may run into sentence enhancers at some point during your case.

There is a process in itself where the prosecutor first has to prove that someone is guilty of the offense of gang enhancements. They must be able to prove that the defendant actively participated in a criminal street gang, knew that the members of a gang were acting in a criminal way, and assisted in a crime by aiding or directly engaging. As an example, what if you knew that a specific gang was going to rob a store and continued to show up and aid them? Then you are also guilty of the offense.

If you want to fight a gang enhancement charge, there are things that you must prove. For instance, you must be able to show in some way that you did not commit the felony or were not acting for the benefit of the street gang. You also cannot be an active participant in a street gang in any way. If you have been convicted of one of these crimes, give us a call today so we can help you handle your case!