Work with the Best Gang Crimes Lawyer in the San Fernando Valley
In California, it is illegal to participate in a gang. When you are charged with a different crime as a gang member in the San Fernando Valley, your gang affiliation can be used to enhance your sentence. A sentencing enhancement means that you will face more serious penalties than you would for the underlying offense if you were not a member of a gang. Fortunately, it is possible to defend against gang crimes allegations. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Naderi Law Office might be able to successfully defend you against the charges that you are facing.
What is a gang crime?
California’s gang enhancement law can be found at Cal. Pen. Code § 186.22. This law contains two parts. The first part can be found under subsection (a) and criminalizes participating in a street gang. Under § 186.22(a), you can be charged with participating in a criminal street gang if you are a member of the gang and know that it has participated in a pattern of criminal conduct. You can also be charged with participating in a criminal street gang if you facilitate or assist any of the gang’s members in engaging in felonious activities. If you are convicted of participating in a criminal street gang, you will face a sentence of up to one year in jail or up to 16 months, two years, or three years in prison.
The second part of the law deals with gang crime sentence enhancements that can be found in § 186.22(b). Under this section, your sentence for any felony that you committed for the benefit of a gang will be enhanced. You will be sentenced to a mandatory prison sentence in addition to your sentence for the felony conviction that will be run consecutively. You do not need to be a member of the criminal street gang. You only need to have committed the felony offense for the gang’s benefit or at its direction.
If you are convicted of a felony with the gang sentencing enhancement, the additional prison sentence that you will receive will depend on the circumstances of what occurred. If the conviction is not a serious felony, the court will sentence you to serve an additional two to four years in addition to the sentence for the felony conviction. If your underlying offense of conviction is a serious felony, the court will sentence you to an additional sentence of five years. If the felony was violent, your gang enhancement sentence will be for 10 years on top of the sentence you receive for your conviction.
If the felony conviction was for extortion or for making threats to witnesses or victims, your gang enhancement sentence will be an additional seven years. If the felony conviction was for a home invasion or carjacking, your gang sentencing enhancement will be for an additional minimum of 15 years. The court can give you an indeterminate sentence of up to life in prison as an enhancement for some crimes.
Defenses to gang crime allegations
There are several possible defenses to gang crime allegations that your attorney might raise. Some of the possible defenses include the following:
- You did not commit the felony;
- You do not actively participate in a gang;
- The prosecutor is trying to apply the gang enhancement unlawfully;
- You did not commit the underlying felony to benefit a gang; or
- The gang sentencing enhancement would not be in the interests of justice.
Contact the attorneys at Naderi Law
If you are facing felony charges, and the prosecutor has notified you that he or she is seeking an enhancement under California’s gang sentencing enhancement law, you should get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer at Naderi Law. Contact us today at our office next to the San Fernando Courthouse at 405 N. Maclay, Suite 203. You can also call us to schedule a consultation at (818) 641-5556.