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Understanding Penal Code 186.22 in California

California laws punish gang members and associated members of gangs more harshly than people who do not have gang ties. Penal Code 186.22 PC is a portion of the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act and is commonly known as California’s Street Gang Enhancement Law. This law states that any individual who commits a felony on behalf of a gang organization will incur mandatory prison sentencing in addition to the sentencing that follows the crime committed.

Depending on the circumstances of the crime committed, an additional 25 years to life sentence may be added to penalties. Even if you are not a participant or a member of a gang, you can still be convicted and share the same consequences and sentencing. The gang crimes defense lawyers at Corrigan Welbourn Stokke work to ensure that a street gang sentencing is removed from charges.

Contact our Newport Beach gang crimes attorneys today at (949) 251-0330. Our attorneys have helped many people in your situation!

California Gang Crime Laws

California’s law governs how members of gangs are treated when facing criminal charges.

The law requires prosecutors to prove that the individual accused of a gang crime sentencing was aware of these three elements:

  • They were participating in a gang
  • They knew the gang accomplished a criminal activity
  • The knowingly promoted and assisted the criminal actions of the gang

If these factors are proven, a person can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of 1 year in fail while felonies carry a punishment of up to 3 years in prison.

What is Gang Enhancement?

Gang enhancement is an additional prison sentence that is tacked onto a felony conviction committed for the benefit, promotion, or assistance of any criminal street gang. Additional prison time for gang enhancement is often as severe or more severe than the underlying felony.

Actively and knowingly participating in a criminal street gang is a crime in and of itself, regardless if you commit a crime while associating with that gang. California law targets individuals who have the intent and objective to further, promote, or assist a gang in its criminal activity. This law also applies to anyone who aids or abets the individual, not just the one who directly commits the crime.

Understanding Gang Enhancement Laws in California

Penal Code 186.22(b) PC increases the punishment for “any person who is convicted of a felony committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, and with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.”

Additional sentencing is dependent on the underlying felony that was committed. Another consideration is whether the felony offense took place in a school zone or within 1,000 feet of a public or private school. Each of these is an aggravating circumstance that the judge may consider when determining sentence length.

Defense Against Gang Crime Charges

There are several ways the criminal defense lawyers at Corrigan Welbourn Stokke can fight your gang crimes charges.

Effective Defense Strategies for Gang-Related Accusations

  • Fight the underlying felony: you can’t receive criminal street gang sentencing enhancement if the underlying felony allegations are successfully challenged.
  • Proving that you are not an active participant in a gang.
  • Proving that you were not acting for the benefit of a gang.

If you have been arrested or charged with gang crime activity, call Corrigan Welbourn Stokke. We know that there are two sides to every story and will fight to protect your rights and your future. Our attorneys are former prosecutors and know the strategies that the other side will use in an attempt to convict you. With over 100 years of combined experience, we are one of Orange County’s premier criminal defense firms.

Contact our Newport Beach gang crimes attorneys today at (949) 251-0330!

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