If you asked one hundred criminal defendants why they committed a crime, you would likely hear one hundred different answers. While many people commit crimes for their own personal gain, some defendants do it to benefit a group. Gang crimes and gang-related activity are serious problems in California, and the law allows harsher penalties for defendants found to be part of gangs. If you committed a crime in furtherance of a gang-related mission or goal, you might face additional charges.

The penalties for gang-related crimes can be very serious. Not only can you be charged with the underlying crime you committed, but your gang affiliation might constitute an additional, separate charge. If convicted, the time you spend behind bars will be longer if your crime was related to gang activities. If you are involved in a gang, fighting your charges may become more difficult.

If you are charged with a crime in California related to some kind of gang activity, you need to contact a lawyer immediately. Our Long Beach gang crime defense lawyers are here to help you. We will fight your charges and challenge your alleged gang affiliation. Call (626) 628-9596 to arrange a confidential legal consultation free of charge at our offices.

Definition of Gang Crimes and Gang Activity in Long Beach

California defines illegal gangs under the California Penal Code § 186.22(f). Under this law, a criminal street gang is an ongoing group or organization of at least three people. The group may be formal or informal and committing criminal acts is part of its primary agenda. Additionally, gangs share a common name or identifying symbols. Gang members frequently engage in patterns of criminal activity for the benefit of the gang.

You must fulfill specific criminal elements to be charged with committing a gang crime in California. First, you must be actively participating in the gang. Second, you must know that the gang members engage in criminal activities on a regular basis. Third, you must be willfully promoting or assisting the criminal conduct of the gang. To be charged with a gang crime, your participation in the crime must be active, and you must be aware that you are promoting the goals of an illegal gang.

Call our Long Beach gang crime defense lawyers right away if you have been charged with a gang-related crime. We can challenge the charges against you and argue against your alleged gang participation or affiliation.

Increased Penalties for Gang-Related Crimes in Long Beach

When you are charged for crimes committed as part of a gang or in furtherance of gang activities, you might face increased penalties above those for the underlying crime. These additional penalties will run consecutively to the penalties for the underlying crime. Consecutive sentences run separately rather than at the same time. This means that if you are sentenced to 5 years in prison for one charge, and another 5 years for another charge, you will serve 10 years total.

According to the California Penal Code § 186.22(a), just participating in an illegal street gang might land you with additional charges. You could face up to one year in jail or 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison.

If you are convicted of a felony as part of gang-related activities, you will face additional consequences that run consecutive to the punishments for the underlying felony. You may face additional prison terms of 2, 3, or 4 years. If the underlying felony was serious, you might face an additional 5 years. If the felony was violent, you might face an additional 10 years in prison.

If prosecutors suspect you were participating in gang-related activities when you allegedly committed the crime in question, you might be looking at very harsh consequences. Call our Long Beach gang crime defense attorneys for assistance.

Can I Be Charged with a Gang Crime If I Am Not a Gang Member in Long Beach?

It is possible to be charged for committing a crime in furtherance of gang activities even if you are not officially a gang member. Actual membership in a gang is not required for prosecutors to charge you with a gang crime. Typically, you can be charged simply for knowing your actions benefitted a gang or furthered a gang-related agenda. If this sounds like your situation, call our Long Beach gang crime defense lawyers for assistance.

People who might run into the problem of being charged with a gang crime even though they are not gang members are the friends and romantic partners of actual gang members. It is not uncommon for those close to gang members to find themselves participating in gang crimes. For example, your friend, who is a gang member, might ask you to help them intimidate and beat up a rival gang member. Even though you are not officially a member of your friend’s gang, you can still be charged for committing a crime in furtherance of gang activities.

Defenses to Gang-Related Charges in Long Beach

The fact that you are not officially a gang member may not be a defense to charges for gang crimes. As stated previously, even non-members can be charged with gang crimes if they acted in furtherance of a gang. However, we may argue against your increased penalties by challenging the underlying crime.

If you are not convicted of the underlying crime you are charged with, you cannot also face additional penalties for gang crimes. Also, we could argue that your actions were not part of gang activities and that you acted alone for an independent purpose.

We could also work to downgrade your underlying felony to a misdemeanor in the hopes of eliminating the gang-related sentencing enhancements for felonies. We could also try to negotiate a plea agreement in which you plead guilty to some charges and prosecutors would drop others. Call our Long Beach gang crime defense attorneys to talk about how we can defend you against your charges.

Call Our Long Beach Gang Crime Defense Attorneys

Contact an attorney for help right away if you have been charged with a gang-related crime. Our Long Beach gang crime defense lawyers have the knowledge and experience to defend you against your charges and fight any increase in penalties. Call (626) 628-9596 to set up a confidential legal consultation at our offices.