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Los Angeles Gang Allegations Lawyer

It is a crime to actively participate in a criminal street gang. There is also a gang enhancement. 

Active Participation in a Gang

Penal Code §186.22(a) makes it a crime to actively participate in a criminal street gang and aid or abet felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang. To obtain a conviction for active participation, the prosecutor must prove the following:

  • Active participation in a criminal street gang;
  • Knowledge that the gang's members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity; AND
  • The commission or willful promotion, furthering or assisting of felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.
    1. The defendant willfully assisted, furthered, or promoted felonious criminal conduct by members of the gang either by a. directly and actively committing a felony offense; OR
    2. Aiding and abetting a felony offense.

Gang Enhancement

If you are convicted of a crime, you face additional punishment if:

  • The defendant committed or attempted to commit the crime for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang; AND
  • The defendant intended to assist, further, or promote criminal conduct by gang members.

The prosecutor will try and establish gang membership by Field Investigation cards (FI cards, which document who you were with if you were in gang territory, gang attire, tattoos, gang name, and whether your admitted to the police that you were a gang member. More recently, they will search for your public social media accounts. Even if your social media accounts are private, they can subpoena the social media companies (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) to try and establish your affiliation with a gang.

Punishment for certain crimes with a gang enhancement can carry life in prison (home invasion robbery, carjacking, violation of Pen C §246 or §12022.55, felony extortion, and threatening victims or witnesses (Pen C §186.22(b)(4)). This office recently lost a trial where our client was found guilty of home invasion robbery. However, we “won” the gang enhancement, which the jury found to be not true. This work saved our client from a life sentence. 

With other crimes, the punishment for gang enhancement depends on the nature of the underlying felony. When that crime is a violent felony (Pen C §667.5), the enhancement carries a consecutive 10-year prison sentence. Pen C §186.22(b)(1)(C). When the underlying crime is a "serious felony" listed in Pen C §1192.7(c), the punishment is 5 years. Pen C §186.22(b)(1)(B). For all other felonies, the enhancement carries an additional term of 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison. Pen C §186.22(b)(1)(A)