San Diego Gang-Related Criminal Defense Lawyer
San Diego Gang-Related Crimes
Explained by a San Diego Criminal Lawyer
California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention [STEP] Act
California Penal Code 186.22
Under Penal Code section 186.22(a) - it is illegal to be a member of a street gang. Participation in a street gang is considered a wobbler - meaning it can be punished as a misdemeanor, with up to one year in jail... or a felony, up to three years in prison. The sentencing depends entirely on the facts of the particular case, and a person's criminal history.
Under Penal Code section 186.22(b) - the "Gang-Enhancement" - a mandatory prison sentence is impossed in addition to the underlying felonies. If a crime was committed on behalf of, or for the benefit of the gang a person may be subject to this sentencing enhancement. The additional sentencing enhancement can range from 2 years to 25 years, depending on the seriousness of the crime and the defendant's criminal history.
California Penal Code 182.5 - Prop 21
Proposition 21, passed by California voters in 2000 was aimed at decreasing youth participation in gangs by imposing tougher penalties for associating with gangs. Penal Code Section 182.5 makes it a felony to participate in a gang, and willfully promote, further, assist, or benefit from any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.
Nearly two decades later did the San Diego district attorney start to enforce this statute. The way the DA interprets this statute, if a gang commits a murder, than anybody who affiliates with the gang can be charged with murder. For example, a gang member murders somebody, and the other 11 gang members did not know about it, nor did they help, or assist in the murder in any way. The DA reasons that because they receive a benefit from the murder (in the form of increased "street rep") that they can be punished for the murder under penal code 182.5. Over 30 people in San Diego have been indicted under this statute, and most of them have had their cases dismissed because this is such a controversial law.
Only an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you battle the DA on these charges.