Gang Crimes Attorney
In recent years the legislature has passed more and more laws aimed at stopping gang violence. The result has been that prosecutors are adding gang enhancements to crimes regardless of whether the individual is really a gang member or whether the crime is really gang related. These enhancements can carry life sentences and turn non-strikes into strike cases.
California gang statutes are poorly drafted and susceptible to interpretations which do ultimately punish mere membership in or association with a gang. Gang cases are unique. Understanding the difference between a group whose members commit crimes to further the group's criminal purpose and a group whose members in a separate capacity commit crime is a critical distinction which is often lost on judges and DAs. However, the distinction is critical to the question of proof and liability in a gang case.
To prove that a defendant is guilty of active participation in a criminal street gang, the DA must prove that:
1. The defendant actively participated in a criminal street gang;
2. When the defendant participated in the gang, (he/she) knew that members of the gang engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity;
3. 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;
b. aiding and abetting a felony offense.
Active participation means involvement with a criminal street gang in a way that is more than passive or in name only. The People do not have to prove that the defendant devoted all or a substantial part of (his/her) time or efforts to the gang, or that (he/she) was an actual member of the gang.
A criminal street gang is any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal:
1. That has a common name or common identifying sign or symbol;
2. That has, as one or more of its primary activities, the commission ofone or more crimes listed in Pen. Code, § 186.22(e)(1)-(25), (31)-(33)> ;
3. Whose members, whether acting alone or together, engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity.
In order to qualify as a primary activity, the crime must be one of the group's chief or principal activities rather than an occasional act committed by one or more persons who happen to be members of the group.
If you or your loved one has been charged with a gang related offense or enhancement, you need an attorney like Lance Jacot who has successfully tried numerous gang cases which required discrediting the prosecution's "gang experts" under cross-examination.