Charged With Gang Enhancement PC 186.22?
California’s Gang Enhancement Rule
Better known as California Penal Code 186.22, the gang enhancement rule increases your sentence. This rule came into effect in 1988. Since then, additional years of confinement have been added to criminal punishments. Whether it’s a misdemeanor or felony that you’ve been charged with, this enhancement can have you sitting behind bars for an even longer time. Although some organizations argue that it’s unconstitutional, thus far, it’s been ruled as constitutionally allowable.
The gang enhancement rule can’t attach to any criminal charge. Instead, it can only attach to assault, robbery, homicide, discharging a firearm from a vehicle, shooting into an inhabited dwelling, grand theft, grand theft auto, vehicular theft, money, laundering, rape, manslaughter, kidnapping, identity theft, mayhem, looting, witness intimidation, and arson.
The length of time this enhancement will add to your sentence depends on the underlying offense. Because it can significantly impede your freedom, it’s important to contact expert criminal gang enhancement attorneys to know what to expect. Call My Rights Law today at (888) 702-8882 or contact us online for a free consultation.
What To Expect
This California law increases your sentence based on the underlying offense. If your underlying offense is a misdemeanor, you can expect up to one year in jail to be added to your punishment. If your underlying offense is a felony, you can expect anywhere from sixteen months to life in prison to be added to your sentence. Fortunately, the state must prove several things before the gang enhancement rule can apply. First, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You actively participated in a criminal street gang,
- You were fully aware that the gang members participated in a pattern of illegal activity, and
- You willfully assisted, aided, and abetted the gang members’ criminal conduct.
For the state to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they must show that there’s no other reasonable conclusion based on the evidence presented. If the state proves this, you will likely be convicted of the underlying offense. Of course, if you are found not guilty of the underlying offense, then the gang enhancement rule cannot apply because it’s neither an offense nor a charge.
What If I’m Not In A Gang?
It’s common for people to get a gang enhancement rule tacked onto their offense simply because they are related to gang members or used to date gang members. Maybe you were in a gang, helped that gang commit a pattern of criminal conduct, and later left the gang life behind. Suppose a witness says that they still see you associating with those gang members, and you are charged with committing a crime that you used to commit while in your gang or that you did for the benefit of the gang. In this case, the state may still add on the gang enhancement rule to your underlying offense.
California law describes a gang as a group of three or more people using a common name or symbol whose primary function is to commit a crime. Wearing specific colors or tattoos may influence people, such as an officer, to conclude you’re an active gang member. This is also true if you’re known to frequent areas where a specific gang is known to congregate. Therefore, you may come across as a gang member even if you aren’t. Even so, the state must prove you’re an active member who’s committed at least two criminal activities within three years of one another.
Can I Get A Gang Enhancement Removed?
The most probable way to get a gang enhancement removed from your charge is to create reasonable doubt that you actively participated in a gang to willfully assist it in furthering its criminal conduct. To create reasonable doubt, you may need to provide another explanation for the crime or establish your innocence entirely.
California Criminal Defense Lawyers
My Rights Law, an experienced criminal defense firm, knows how to effectively defend you against criminal charges. We will carefully review your situation and work hard to defend you from any criminal charges the state throws at you. We will help ensure that a gang enhancement is not leveled against you. Don’t gamble on your future. Get a well-respected criminal defense team in your corner without delay. To learn more, call My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or contact us online today.