Understanding Gang Violence in California

by reports@rankings.io | Apr 09, 2015 | Criminal Defense
gang violence

In a recent report from the Los Angeles Times “drive-bys” are giving way to walk-ups due to a shift in gang tactics.  Last month, Ricardo Nunez was doing yard work at his home when a white truck pulled up and a person inside opened fire, killing the 35 year old.

According to LAPD detective Ray Martinez, law enforcement is seeing fewer such fatal drive-by shootings.  Shockingly, Martinez reveals that he is more commonly working on cases where gunmen walk right up to their victim, in so-called “walk-up” shootings. “They get to see the whole reaction.  It seems more daring, “ says Martinez.  As gang culture shifts to less overt, the killings become more targeted.

Under the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, codified in the California Penal Code § 186.20, it is illegal for any person to actively participate in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.

If convicted under the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act a defendant faces imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed one year, or by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or 2 or 3 years.

Also under the Penal Code, within section 186.22(b) a defendant may be punished if he/she commits a felony for the benefit of the gang and can receive a mandatory prison sentence, which is in addition to, and runs consecutive to the penalty he/she receives for the underlying felony.  This is referred to as the gang sentencing enhancement.

A conviction for a gang affiliated felony carries significantly more punishment that a conviction for a felony with no gang affiliation.  Depending on the underlying crime, the sentence enhancement can vary.  Generally, if you are convicted of a felony and the gang enhancement is applied you will receive an additional prison term of 2, 3 or 4 years served in addition to the felony sentence and served consecutively.  However, if the underlying felony is considered a serious felony the additional prison term served is 5 years.

A gang enhancement for violent felonies results in an additional 10-year imprisonment.  This 10- year sentence is served in addition to and consecutively to the sentence for the underlying felony.  Violent felonies include murder or mayhem, or various sex crimes.

As in the news article, a drive-by shooting is a felony offense under California Penal Code 26100 PC.  If the drive-by causes death or great bodily injury and is gang affiliated, however, the sentence enhancement is 15 years.

Misdemeanor Enhancement
California Penal Code 186.22(d) PC provides another gang enhancement, which can increase a misdemeanor into a felony if the misdemeanor was committed for the benefit of or in association with a gang and with the intent to further gang criminal conduct.

Legal Representation
Because gang enhancement statutes result in much longer prison sentences, it is important to fire an attorney who can competently and zealously advocate in your defense.  Gang-related crimes are punished more severely and you want an attorney who will aggressively represent you.  The attorneys at The Rodriguez Law Group have the experience and passion you deserve on your side.  Call the firm today to discuss your charge.

To learn more, call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm at 213-995-6767 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.