To combat and prevent organized street crimes in the state, California imposed the Penal Code section 186.22 in 1988 as part of California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act. This particular law related to its strict penalties to charge gang members is commonly called gang enhancement law. The law enables the prosecutor to charge a simple misdemeanor as the felony, and the felonies are subjected to increased punishment or conviction.
Implemented in the state to reduce the street crime and juvenile rates, the complex structure of gang enhancement law make it susceptible to manipulation. In some cases, prosecutors exploit the law to increase the penalties of a convict by associating him with a gang or accusing the crime as part of the pattern of gang activity.
If you are facing gang-related or violence charges, you understand the seriousness of the issue, and you should seek immediate expert defense. David S. Chesley is the experienced defense attorney, helping the clients involved in gang-related crimes to convict on lesser degree charges and reducing their penalties. Chesley lawyers trained by the gang experts know gang culture, the pattern of gang activity, and the gang behavior. The firm grasps on the California gang enhancement law, and an understanding of gang culture enables the Chesley lawyers to represent and defend their clients accused of gang-related violence successfully.
The General Law to Prove Guilty:
To convict a person for gang related crimes in general, the prosecutor must establish the following charges beyond reasonable doubt.
• You actively participated in a gang
• You knew that its members engaged in a pattern of gang criminal activity (it also includes the past engagements as well).
• You willfully promoted, furthered or assisted the gang in felonious conduct
The Enhanced Law to Prove Guilty:
To convict a person under the gang enhancement law Penal Code 186.22(b), the prosecutor should establish the following two things beyond reasonable doubt, that
• You committed, or attempted, that crime, for the benefit of a street gang, at the gang’s direction, or in association with it; and
• You intended to promote, further, or assist some criminal conduct by members of the gang.
In the cases of enhanced law, the prosecutor does not need to prove the active participation of the person at the time that crime was committed.
It makes any non-member vulnerable to being charged for enhanced penalties and sentence if prosecutor proves that the crime was committed at the direction of the gang and was done to promote or benefit the gang’s criminal activity.
Available Defenses Against Gang Enhancement Law:
The available defenses against the gang enhancement law are the following,
• To Dispute the charges pressed against the person,
• To show that the person is not an active member,
• To prove that the crime was not committed for the benefit of the gang or at the direction of the gang,
• And finally, by establishing that prosecutor is pressing the enhancement charges illegally.
1- To dispute underlying felony charges
If the underlying felony charges are disputed, it means that there will be no gang sentence enhancement. In this scenario, the Chesley lawyers can establish that prosecutor does not have enough evidence to prove every element of the felony, hence resulting in dropping of charges against client.
2- To dispute the Active Participation in Gang
To prove you guilty of gang related violence, the prosecutor should establish that you were an active member of the gang at the time crime was committed. It is usually done with the testimony of gang experts from the police who work on gangs. However, a successful defense law firm like Chesley lawyers can find the loopholes in the prosecutor’s evidence, disputing the active participation.
3- To prove the crime was not committed for the benefit of the gang
Acting for the benefit of the gang is the mandatory part of the gang enhancement law. A prosecutor must prove that you were acting for the benefit of the gang at its direction. But, experienced defense lawyers can show that you committed the felony for personal needs and did not act to benefit the gang.
Chesley Lawyers’ Successful Gang Related Case
Participation in a street gang pc 186.22, physical violence to recruit pc 186.26, assault by means likely to produce great bodily harm pc 245- facing 7 years’ state prison, received no jail time.