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Los Angeles Gang-Related Violence Attorney

Defending Californians who have been charged with Gang-related Violent Crimes in California

A conviction of a gang-related crime of violence in California can result in serious penalties and limitations on your freedom. The California Penal Code also provides for a gang sentencing enhancement, which can subject you to even harsher penalties under certain circumstances.

If you have been charged with gang violence in the State of California, the experienced criminal defense lawyers at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley may be able to help. Our skilled team of attorneys may be able to challenge the prosecution’s case, negotiate with the prosecutor for a favorable plea deal, or argue against recommended penalties and sentencing enhancements.

Participating in a Street Gang:

In order for a California prosecutor to convict you of participating in a street gang, he or she must be able to show the following:

  • That you were an active participant in the street gang
  • That you were aware of the fact that the members of the criminal street gang regularly took part in gang activity
  • That you intentionally furthered, promoted, or helped the felony conduct in which criminal gang members participated

Under the gang enhancement law in the State of California, active participation in a gang activity means that the accused was not a mere passive or nominal participant in the gang. However, the accused may still have actively participated in the gang’s activities if he or she was not a member or leader of the criminal gang. Closely associating with certain gang members, for example, may be sufficient.

A criminal street gang is a criminal organization consisting of at least three people. In order to be classified as a criminal street gang, the gang must have a common sign, symbol, or name. Moreover, the group must take part in crimes and must show a pattern of engaging in criminal gang activity on a regular basis. In order for there to be a pattern of gang activity, the following must have taken place:

  • At least two crimes from a specific list must have been committed.
  • The crimes must have been committed on at least two occasions by at least two people.
  • The crimes must have taken place within three years of each other.
  • At least one of the crimes at issue must have taken place after September of 1988.

There are several relatively common criminal offenses which can be used to establish a criminal gang activity pattern. Those offenses include robbery, drive-by shootings, drug offenses (including sale, transportation, manufacture, and possession of drugs with intent to sell), assault with a deadly weapon, murder, and vandalism.

Finally, the prosecution must be able to show that you furthered, assisted, or promoted criminal gang activity. In order for the prosecutor to meet his or burden of proof, you must have assisted in the commission of a felony, or you must have actually committed a felony offense under California law. You must have also committed the offense with other members of a criminal gang, as opposed to committing the crime on your own.

Penalties upon Conviction

If you are charged with and convicted of participating in a criminal gang, you will likely be facing serious criminal penalties and other consequences. Since participating in a criminal gang constitutes a wobbler crime under the California Penal Code, the prosecutor may bring the charge as either a felony or a misdemeanor.

If you sustain a misdemeanor conviction under the law, a judge can sentence you to a maximum of one year of incarceration in the county jail. In addition, a judge may impose a maximum monetary fine of $1,000. If you are convicted of felony gang participation, however, the potential sentences increase dramatically. In those instances, a judge can sentence you to sixteen months, two years, or three years in a state prison in California. In addition, a judge could impose a maximum monetary fine against you in the amount of $10,000.

The skilled California gang-related violence defense lawyers at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley can advocate on your behalf for a good plea deal, a reduction of your criminal charge, or a lesser penalty upon conviction.

Street Gang Sentencing Enhancement

If you sustain a criminal conviction in California, you may receive a criminal sentence enhancement, provided that the State prosecutor is able to satisfy all of the sentencing enhancement elements. When it comes to criminal street gangs, those additional elements include the following:

  • That you actually committed – or that you attempted to commit – a crime that benefited a criminal street gang. Additionally, you may have committed the criminal offense in association with a criminal street gang or at the gang’s direction.
  • That at the time you committed the criminal offense, you intended to further, assist, or promote the gang members’ criminal activity, conduct, or purposes.

In addition to proving these “enhancement elements,” the California prosecutor must be able to prove all of the elements of the underlying criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutor is unable to do so, you are not eligible to receive the enhancement penalties. Moreover, in order for you to receive the enhancement penalties, you need not have actively participated in the gang at that time or been a gang member.

The amount of time that a sentencing enhancement will add to your sentence depends upon the nature of the underlying crime with which you were charged. For example, if you sustained a felony conviction and the sentencing enhancement for street gangs applies, you can receive an additional two, three, or four years in jail. If the underlying felony is a serious felony, including certain drug crimes, an additional five years can be tacked on to your criminal sentence. If the underlying felony is a violent felony, such as murder or a sex crime, you can receive an additional ten years in jail.

Other felonies can result in even longer sentencing enhancements when committed with the intention of promoting or assisting a gang. Those felonies include home invasion robbery, carjacking, shooting into an occupied car or inhabited dwelling place, or taking part in a drive-by shooting. These offenses can lead to an additional 15 years’ incarceration. Extortion offenses or dissuading a witness can result in seven years’ incarceration up to life imprisonment.

Finally, under certain circumstances, a prosecutor may be able to convert any misdemeanor charge into a felony charge if the person commits the crime to benefit a street gang – or with the intention of promotion or assisting gang members with criminal activity.

Contact a California Gang-related Violence Lawyer Today

Under the California Penal Code, judges in the State of California have the discretion to strike the criminal gang enhancement. In order for this to happen, a criminal defense lawyer must be able to persuade the judge that the interests of justice require that the gang enhancement be stricken from consideration. The skilled legal team at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley may be able to convince a judge that your case falls into one of these limited exceptions.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with our California gang-related violence lawyer, please call us today at 1-800-755-5174, or contact us online.

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  • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

  • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

  • Client's estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

  • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client's glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

  • Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!

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