California takes gangs and gang activity seriously. Legislators enacted many laws intended to deter gang membership and punish those who take part in illegal activities associated with gangs. For anyone arrested and charged in connection with gang activity, this often brings life-changing consequences in the form of enhanced prison sentences for convictions.
As a former prosecutor, the experience that Christy Horowitz represents her clients proactively and make a difference in gang-related cases. She will present you and your case in the most compassionate light possible, crafting effective plea bargains and dedicating herself to creative solutions tailored to your case and charges.
CALIFORNIA’S LAWS ON GANG ACTIVITY AND GANG RELATED CRIME
Gang crimes in California are not limited to active participation in a gang, though in California that is a crime for which you can be arrested and convicted. Engaging in gang activity can result in either a misdemeanor or felony charge. For you to be convicted it must be shown that:
- You actively participated in a gang
- You know the gang members have a pattern of engaging in gang criminal activity
- You were assisting, furthering, or otherwise willfully promoting the gang’s criminal conduct
However, it’s important to note that a conviction for engaging in gang activity must be tied to a felony, as opposed to a misdemeanor.
Additionally, someone arrested for criminal activity in connection with a gang – whether it be something as serious as homicide or robbery or as minor as drug possession – risks enhanced charges and sentences if convicted. An experienced Santa Barbara gang crimes defense lawyer can argue for lesser charges and reduced penalties and help you avoid being charged or punished to the full extent of the law.
ENHANCED PENALTIES AND SENTENCES
Crimes normally charged as misdemeanors in California may be upgraded to felonies by prosecutors, if committed to benefit a gang. Felonies carry tougher penalties and longer sentences. If a crime was committed for the benefit of a gang, at the direction of a gang, or in association with any criminal street gang, your charge may be upgraded if the crime was committed with specific intent to:
- Further, or
- Assist any gang members’ criminal conduct.
California also enacted gang enhancement laws when sentencing people convicted of gang-related crimes. The exact penalties depend on the facts of each case, but someone convicted could face either an additional four years in state prison or a life sentence.
It’s important to know you do NOT have to be a gang member to receive a gang enhancement at sentencing. The enhancement is available for prosecutors to use against anyone who committed a crime for a criminal street gang’s benefit, at their direction, or in association with them.