How Does a Gang Enhancement Affect Sentencing in California?

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A gang enhancement in California may assist in stopping terrorism on the streets of the state so that gangs are reduced or eliminated in certain areas of the location. The street gang sentencing enhancement law may issue charges against someone that has participated in a gang and lead to felony criminal charges and penalties when conviction occurs.

Participation in a gang many lead to worse charges than would normally be issued when the accused resides or has been arrested in California. While participation is the first part, the felony criminal activity is what leads to the arrest and penalties through conviction. The usual punishments may lead to one year in the county jail or up to sixteen months in a California state prison. Additional fines may be incurred based on the factors of the case. Enhancement of these charges could increase the time to between two and fifteen years or 25 to life in prison.

Due to the wave of gang activity and increase felony crimes, local governance and political members believe enhanced sentencing is necessary as both punishment in these actions and to deter future gang participation and crimes. Those most directly responsible for the crimes and illegal acts may face the more severe time in jail or prison. These charges may also include persons that associate with gang members. Many of those that are in a gang or work with a gang may engage in drug or sex trafficking, violence against others and similar illegal actions. Lawyers become involved when criminal charges are issued to defend the accused.

Deterrence and Punishment

Many increases in criminal charges and subsequent sentencing are to deter future crime from occurring. Local politicians and other authorities employ these methods to protect the citizens in the state and local communities. These persons believe that increasing the possibility of harsher sentences may deter the actual committing of violent and illegal actions. The statistics suggest this is possible based on the age and belief of the criminal. However, only so much deterrent is possible. The actual punishments are necessary for gang members that participate in criminal activities. Those associated with these persons may also find themselves behind bars or facing hefty fines.

When someone is connected to a gang either through a member or that performs services for the group, this person may face additional sentencing for the added participation. This could lead to years in prison with the original crime committed. Penalties may include ten, twenty or a lifetime behind bars in a state prison depending on the severity and degree of crime that has occurred. Those that act in benefit of the gang may face the same type of sentences. Additionally, the possibility of a reduced sentence may not be possible with these new laws in California unless the judge determines it necessary.

Defending against Gang Enhancement Affects

Before the accused is able to defend against the charges, he or she must understand what he or she has been charged with and how the enhanced ruling for gang participation and related crimes may increase or broaden penalties. If the individual is not in the gang, even though the enhanced sentencing may still lead to severe punishments, he or she may not face as serious a sentence as someone that has participated within a gang. This could protect the nongang member from the worse sentencing or from becoming an example to deter future crimes.

Defenses often lay with the corresponding crimes that are committed while retaining membership in the gang. The member may explain that no felony was committed even though he or she is part of a gang. This would exclude these harsher and enhanced sentences. Additionally, he or she could demonstrate that he or she is not an active participant in the gang, even if he or she was in the past. Another defense may be that no benefit was gained by the actions of the accused, and he or she was not acting to benefit the gang or members.

The Lawyer in Gang Enhanced Sentencing

When someone has been charged with a crime in addition to being part of a gang or acting in the best interests of a gang, it is important to hire a criminal defense lawyer in California. It is important that the rights of the defendant are protected. The lawyer may devise a strategy of defense that could protect him or her from the severe increase in sentencing if convicted.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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