California Penal Code 186.22 is part of the "California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act" (STEP Act), which is commonly known as the gang enhancement law.
Gang crimes in California can be a stand-alone charge of being a gang member, or an enhancement, which is charged when a crime is committed for the benefit of the gang.
Penal Code 186.22(a) prohibits a person from actively participating in a criminal street gang when he or she has knowledge that its members engage in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who willfully promote, further or assist in felonious criminal conduct by members of the gang. This crime carries up to 3 years in state prison.
Penal Code 186.22(b) states that any person convicted of a felony, committed for the benefit or, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in criminal conduct by gang members, shall receive an additional penalty on top of the penalty for the underlying felony. The additional penalty can be an additional two, three, or four years. If the current case is a serious felony the gang penalty can add five years. If the current case is a violent felony, then the gang penalty can add ten years. There are also enhancements for gang conduct that can make the penalty a life sentence
Gang crimes can also be misdemeanors under Penal Code 186.22(a) and Penal Code 186.22(d), which carry up to 1 year in jail.
If you are charged with a gang enhancement, it is imperative that you have an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney. A felony conviction with a gang enhancement will have huge consequences on your everyday life. The attorneys at Jackson Law have successfully defended against numerous gang enhancements, saving clients prison terms, felony convictions, and life consequences.
If you are being investigated for a criminal offense, or have been charged with a criminal offense, and want to know how to best proceed, please contact the attorneys at Jackson Law online or call Jackson Law at 650-587-8556.