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Penal Code 186.22 PC | Gang Enhancements

California Penal Code 186.22 PC – Gang Enhancements

California Penal Code 186.22 PC is the law that covers gang enhancements in California. This law allows prosecutors to seek longer prison sentences for crimes committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang.

Gang enhancements can add 2, 3, or 4 years to a sentence for a felony or make the crime a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Gang enhancements can also add 10 years or more to a sentence for serious or violent felonies. Let’s take a closer look at how these gang enhancements work.

What is a Criminal Street Gang?

Under California law, a criminal street gang is defined as:

  • An ongoing group or association of 3 or more people
  • That has a common name or sign or symbol
  • Has as one of its primary activities the commission of certain criminal offenses
  • Engages through its members in a “pattern of criminal gang activity”

This definition includes well-known gangs like the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, etc. But it also includes smaller neighborhood crews that engage in criminal activities like graffiti, drug sales, or violence.

What is a Pattern of Criminal Gang Activity?

To prove a pattern of criminal gang activity, prosecutors must show:

  • The commission of, conviction of, or arrest for 2 or more specified criminal offenses
  • These offenses were committed on separate occasions within 3 years of each other
  • At least one of those offenses was committed after the law went into effect in 1988
  • The offenses were committed by 2 or more gang members

The list of qualifying criminal offenses includes serious and violent felonies like murder, robbery, kidnapping, arson, assault with a deadly weapon, and more.

Participation in a Criminal Street Gang – 186.22(a) PC

California Penal Code 186.22(a) makes it a crime to actively participate in a criminal street gang. To prove this charge, prosecutors must show:

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Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
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Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
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Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
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2024-03-12
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Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
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divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • The defendant actively participated in a criminal street gang
  • The defendant knew the gang engages in a pattern of criminal activity
  • The defendant willfully assisted, furthered or promoted felonious criminal conduct by the gang

This offense is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The maximum sentence is 1 year in jail or 3 years in prison.

Gang Enhancements – 186.22(b) PC

California Penal Code 186.22(b) provides for enhanced penalties for crimes committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang with the intent to promote or assist in criminal conduct by gang members. To prove this enhancement, prosecutors must show:

  • The defendant committed a felony for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang
  • The defendant intended to assist, further or promote criminal conduct by gang members

The amount of additional time added to the sentence depends on the underlying felony:

  • 2, 3, or 4 years for most felonies
  • 5 years for serious felonies
  • 10 years for violent felonies
  • 15 years to life for certain specified felonies like murder, home invasion robbery, carjacking, etc.

Legal Defenses

Some of the common legal defenses to fight gang enhancements include:

  • You are not an active gang member
  • The crime was not gang-related
  • You did not have the specific intent to assist or promote the gang
  • The group does not meet the definition of a criminal street gang
  • Fight the underlying charges

An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the evidence and determine the best defenses based on the facts of your case.

Related Laws

Other laws related to criminal gang activity include:

  • Penal Code 182 PC – California law on criminal gang conspiracy makes it a crime to conspire with gang members to commit a felony.
  • Penal Code 12022.53 – The 10-20-life law provides sentence enhancements for using a gun in the commission of a felony.
  • Penal Code 12022.7 PC – The great bodily injury enhancement adds 3-6 years for crimes involving great bodily injury.
  • Penal Code 190.2 – The gang-related special circumstances murder allows life without parole or death for murder by an active gang member.

Hiring an Attorney

Gang cases involve some of the most serious felony charges carrying life sentences. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer is critical.

A knowledgeable attorney can challenge the prosecution’s evidence and ensure your legal rights are protected. They will thoroughly investigate the charges and build the strongest defense to get charges reduced or dismissed where possible.

Don’t leave your future to chance. The best way to avoid the harsh penalties of California’s gang enhancement law is to fight the charges with an aggressive legal defense.

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JEREMY FEIGENBAUM

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CLAIRE BANKS

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RAJESH BARUA

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