The Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (also known as the STEP Act) has been used to combat gang and gang activity all across California. In place for over three decades, the STEP act has provided law enforcement with sweeping powers in order to push back against the countless violent gangs that have organized in the state. Unfortunately, the STEP act can be used to indiscriminately target gang members and unaffiliated people alike. For this post, we’re exploring how gang crimes are targeted and prosecuted in California.
How the STEP Act is Enforced
In simple terms, there are two primary components to the STEP Act. The first part focuses on “active participation in criminal street gang.” It criminalizes active involvement with a gang, which is further defined by this section of the penal code. It also defines a list of gang crimes that can be tried under this law.
The second component centers on “felony or misdemeanor committed for the benefit of criminal street gang.” It allows for sentence enhancements that can sharply increase the penalties associated with a misdemeanor or felony if it can be established that the crime was gang-related or gang-affiliated. Depending on the circumstances of the crime, defendants could face an extra 2-25 years in prison, and potentially even a life sentence.
Challenging Gang Crime Charges in CA
Being charged under the STEP Act and subjected to enhanced penalties is a serious matter. This is especially true when you consider how law enforcement will use “indicators” such as ethnicity, race, tattoos, and other irrelevant or unrelated factors to target suspects.
If you want to learn more about the STEP Act, gang crimes, or any other matter relating to criminal law in CA, why not give the legal experts at the Jacot Law Firm a call? We offer free initial consultations. Simply call us at 209-463-1800 to schedule yours today.