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Levels of Penalties

Gang crimes are subject to extremely harsh penalties under California and federal laws. A gang crime was committed for the benefit of a gang, at the direction of a gang member, or on behalf of a gang. Those found guilty of gang crime are subject to additional penalties. 

Sentence enhancements may add additional jail time and fines, among other potential punishments. The purpose of gang enhancements is to reduce or deter gang participation. Gang crimes are prosecuted and punished on the state or federal level. Both the state and federal laws impose additional penalties for gang-related crime convictions. 

Levels of penalties


The California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Protection Act, known as STEP, provides sentencing enhancements for gang-related crimes under California Penal Code 186.22. Penalties for gang crimes are extremely harsh. 

  • A person who commits a felony crime on behalf of a gang or to further a gang is subject to enhanced penalties. The prosecutor must prove that you intended to further a gang when you committed the crime. 
  • Enhanced penalties are punishments that you could face in addition to the penalties associated with the initial crime.
  • You are subject to gang penalties if you are first found guilty of the felony crime. A gang member can be punished for both a felony crime and gang activity. 
  • The Federal Criminal Street Gangs Law, 18 USC 521 provides authorization for enhanced sentencing for gang members found guilty of crimes. 
  • Those found guilty of a federal gang crime could face up to ten additional years of prison in addition to the original sentence. 

When a crime is committed for the benefit of or at the direction of a gang, the enhanced penalties apply. These penalties are in addition to the sentence associated with the felony crime. The STEP Act adds an automatic sentence of a minimum of 15 years to a maximum of life in prison, to the sentence. The sentences are to run consecutively. 

This means that you must complete both sentences and penalties count separately for each. For example, if you were convicted of murder with gang enhancement, you face penalties for both. The sentence therefore is much more severe with gang penalties. 

  • Both state and federal gang laws are designed to reduce gang activity. Therefore, the penalties that apply to gang-related convictions are extremely harsh. 
  • If you are convicted of a gang crime you could be facing many years in prison. Gang enhancements apply when you are found to be a gang member or an affiliate of a gang. 
  • You may also be charged with gang enhancements if you committed a crime to join a gang. For instance, if you committed a felony as an initiation, you could face gang penalties. 

If you or a loved one is facing gang penalties, call our firm today. We are here to listen. We are here to help, and we can help you fight for your future. Give us a call today.

If you have been charged with

gang crimes, call 805-477-0070 now.

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Strongest Defense provides legal representation to individuals facing felony charges of gang crimes in Ventura, Oxnard, and Camarillo, California. No attorney or law firm can make any promises or guarantee an outcome for your criminal case. The contents presented on this site are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Visiting this website does not establish an attorney/client relationship.

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