PC 186.22(a) Definition
Penal Code Section 186.22(a) makes it a crime for a person to actively participate in criminal street gang activity. Code Section 186.22 makes it an additional charge and sentence enhancement for members to engage in criminal activity or assisting in any felonious conduct to further the progression of the gang.
This charge may be filed as a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year in county jail or as a felony punishable by a maximum of three years in California state prison. It is rare for this crime to be charged as a misdemeanor. If you or loved one have been charged with a gang crime, contact the Orange County gang crime lawyer at the Law Offices of Christian Kim today for a free consultation.
What is Gang Enhancement?
Under CA Penal Code Section 186.22(b), "Gang Enhancement" is an increase to one's criminal punishments in California due to their willful involvement in gang activity. Gang enhancement applies to those who have committed a felony for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members. The possible increase in the sentence under this enhancement is between two years to life in state prison depending on the felony committed.
Even misdemeanors can be enhanced to be charged more heavily. For example, a person charged with felony vandalism (such as tagging that causes more than $400 in damage) may also be charged with Penal Code Section 186.22(a) if the prosecutor believes that the person is also an active gang member. That person also may be charged with Penal Code Section 186.22(b) if the prosecutor believes that the vandalism was committed for the benefit of the gang. This enhancement will increase the possible punishment by a maximum of four years in state prison.
In another example, a person charged with a carjacking may also be charged with the above two sections if the prosecution believes that the person was an active gang member and that the carjacking was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang in Orange County. The potential sentence for this person is life in state prison.
Other crimes that could be open to gang enhancement laws:
Both Penal Code Sections 186.22(a) and 186.22(b) are strikes under the California Three Strikes Law.
Gang Affiliation Lawyer in Orange County, CA
In order to prove a gang case, a “gang expert” is called to testify on behalf of the prosecution in almost all cases. These experts are usually investigators from the local police department who are assigned to the gang unit. They will testify to their opinion that a certain person is a gang member based on that person’s prior contacts with law enforcement which are usually documented in police reports and Field Identification Cards.
At the Law Offices of Christian Kim, our attorney has successfully handled numerous gang cases during his career. He has the necessary trial experience to effectively challenge not only the gang expert, but also the prosecution’s other evidence. Being a former deputy district attorney who has worked closely with gang investigators and experts, he can recognize the weaknesses in a prosecution’s case and use it to his client’s advantage.
Attorney Christian Kim is committed to using his extensive experience as a former prosecutor and as a Santa Ana criminal defense attorney to aggressively and competently defend the rights of those accused of wrongdoing.
Mr. Kim believes that anything less than complete honesty is a disservice to his clients. You deserve complete and frank communication from your attorney in order to make informed decisions in your case.
Maintaining the highest level of professionalism with all of his clients is a priority for Mr. Kim. Each client is treated respectfully and courteously and all phone calls are returned promptly.
After more than 7 years serving the Orange County area as a prosecutor and now over 14 years as a criminal defense attorney, Christian Kim has experience on both sides. His unique history gives him the one-of-a-kind perspective that your case needs.
Christian was extremely helpful through every process of my case. He was able to get my case dismissed entirely.