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Gang Crime Defense Attorney

What is a Gang Crime?

Seeing an increase in gang activity, the California legislature passed the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act (“STEP Act”) in 1988. ¹ Its passage created both stand alone crimes and enhancements to existing crimes. When charged as a gang crime, the prosecutor can use evidence that is normally kept out and seek harsher punishments.

California law defines a Criminal Street Gang as follows:²

  • A group of three or more people;

  • With a common name, sign, or symbol;

  • Who’s primary activity is committing a listed crime under the STEP Act; and

  • It’s members engage in a pattern of criminal activity.

What is a Criminal Street Gang?

Stand Alone Gang Crimes

A stand alone gang crime makes certain “gang activities” a chargeable offense. Generally, there are two activities that are prohibited: Active Participation ³ and Recruitment .

Active Participation ³ makes it a felony or a misdemeanor for any person to participate actively in any criminal street gang. Of course, the prosecutor must prove that you knew that its members engage in a pattern of criminal gang activity. And that you promoted, furthered, or assisted the felonious criminal conduct of that gang. A conviction would result in imprisonment in the county jail up to one (1) year, or in the state prison for sixteen (16) months, two (2) years, or three (3) years.


Recruitment  makes it a felony to solicit another to participate in a criminal street gang. A conviction would result in imprisonment in state prison for sixteen (16) months, two (2) years, or three (3) years. But threats of or actual use of physical violence can increase the prison sentence.

Unlike stand alone gang crimes, the Gang Enhancements need a underlying felony to come into play. Even more, the felony must be committed for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang. And there needs to be a specific intent to promote, further, or assist in the criminal conduct by gang members.  Unfortunately, these enhancement can turn normally probation eligible felonies into state prison cases. In addition to the sentencing exposure of the underlying felony, you can face an additional incarceration as follows:

  • Two (2) year, three (3) year, four (4) year; 

  • Five (5) year;  or

  • Ten (10) year of prison if convicted. 

Gang Enhancements to Felony Crimes

Why contact The Lin Law Office Inc. for your Gang case?

Getting convicted under STEP Act can lead to severe repercussions. Depending on the charges, you could be looking at additional two (2) years or up to ten (10) years of prison time, or even be facing a indeterminate life sentence. But even before you get there, you will face a unfair trial where the prosecutor will present evidence that is normally excluded. Mr. Lin has both prosecuted and successfully defended gang cases in Riverside and San Bernardino County. He is intimately familiar with the law in this area. Contact us today if you are being accused of a Gang Crime.

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