Across the country, gang-related activities and charges are taken very seriously by criminal courts. California is no different. However, there are numerous times when someone may be facing a charge related to gang activity that they have been falsely accused of. And, oftentimes, gang-related charges tend to get blown out of proportion.
When this happens, it’s essential that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights are upheld and build the best defensive strategy possible. If you need legal help and are in the Oakland, California, area call me at the Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office. I’m proud to serve clients throughout Alameda County, Northern California, San Francisco, and the Bay Area.
Gang-related charges are handled differently than other crimes and there are numerous examples of criminal street gang activity that can include:
Under California law, a “gang” is defined as a group of three or more people who commit crimes as a group (or certain members of that group) and use a common name. Therefore, when these criminal activities are committed, they’re often classified as “gang-related” and can carry with them different (and often more severe) penalties than similar crimes that aren’t committed within a gang.
The state has also imposed gang affiliation laws even though there are no such laws at the federal level. Although these laws don’t permit arrest simply because someone is in a gang, they do make it possible to enhance penalties for certain offenses committed by gang members. For instance, if an individual is arrested for vandalism and has committed the crime on their own, but there are certain links to a gang (such as where the vandalism was committed), the defendant may see harsher punishments.
If you’re facing charges like this, know that they are options for your defense, and this is especially true for charges related to gang affiliation. One common defense is to assert the charges are based on racial profiling. In other words, as your attorney, I’d argue that it was only assumed you were part of a particular gang due to your race.
Another option for defense is to assert that you aren’t part of the gang at all. In some cases, you may have a friend who is a gang member and, just because you’re associated with them, law enforcement may mistakenly believe that you’re also part of their gang.
The possible penalties for gang-related charges will vary based on the crimes you’re facing. In most cases, the consequences will be more severe than if you were facing the same charges as a non-gang-affiliated individual. Punishments can include longer jail or prison sentences and larger fines.
For instance, if you're convicted of a violent felony your total prison time can increase by as much as 10 years simply because it’s a gang-related charge. Additionally, if the crime you're convicted of contains the possible penalty of life in prison, there’s a high likelihood that the judge will sign off on that maximum sentence—especially if you have inadequate representation as your defense.
These harsh consequences highlight one of the many reasons why it’s so important to have a skilled attorney on your side. You can count on me to protect your rights and fight for the fair outcome you deserve.
If you’ve recently been charged with a gang-related crime and would like to sit down with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss your options, reach out to my firm immediately at the Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office. I’m able to help those in and around the Oakland, California, area.