In California criminal courts, there is no set of laws more misused than gang charges and enhancements. These laws are often misused by police agencies as weapons against certain communities. They are used to target certain ethnic groups around the state and the country. Gang charges and enhancements are used by prosecutors to add many years to relatively minor offenses or to make “non-strike” offenses into “strike” offenses.
Gang enhancements are typically very severe. They are charged under California Penal Code §186.22. They can attach to both misdemeanor and felony cases. A full discussion of gang enhancements can be found HERE.
Only Experienced Attorneys Should Handle These Cases
- THE LAW IS DIFFERENT- The gang statutes are very specific, and very confusing. There is case law that is very specific to gang cases which is changing every day. Very recently, there have been some decisions coming down which recognize the misuse/ over use of the gang statutes. Your lawyer MUST be aware of the ever changing legal landscape in this area to be effective.
- DISCOVERY IS VERY SPECIFIC- There is a specific set items which must be requested through discovery in gang cases. Many law enforcement agencies keep detailed records of people they feel are gang members. This includes Field Interview Cards or “FI Cards”, Cal Gangs database information (which is hard to get) or any other information kept by the cops tending to show gang membership or affiliation. If your lawyer doesn’t know what to ask for and who to ask, you will be at a severe disadvantage.
- GANG EXPERTS- In gang cases, the prosecution will invariably call a gang “expert.” A Gang “expert” is usually nothing more than a police officer who patrols a gang area. They are not sociologists who have studied group dynamics or social psychologists; they are cops with an agenda, put the person in PRISON. There is a very specific set of tactics that go along with attacking this “expert” level of expertise. If not handled properly from the beginning, these experts will do some serious damage that cannot be undone. Put simply, an inexperienced lawyer will get creamed by one of these “experts.”
- SPECIFIC MOTIONS NEED TO BE FILED- Gang cases take a lot of work. “Pitchess Motions” are typically filed as well as standard “Suppression Motions” or 1538.5 motions. But there are other more specific motions relating to suppressing the use of “FI Cards,” motions relating to the use of “predicate offenses” to charge up the gang allegations, motions to bifurcate the gang allegation from the main charged offense and many more that an effective lawyer should file to be effective on a gang case.
If you are facing gang-related criminal charges, you need an aggressive, dedicated southern California criminal defense attorney by your side. If you even think you may be investigated in connection with gang-related criminal activity, the best time to obtain a California criminal defense lawyer is now. We can begin our own investigation. We can possibly affect the severity of the charges you may face or at least begin building a defense as the prosecutors build their case against you.
Whether you are facing gang related charges in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, San Diego County, Santa Barbara County, Riverside County or San Bernardino County, we have you covered. Contact the The Cross Law Firm today to discuss your case.
Helpful Links For Information On Gangs & Gang Cases