In the beginning of this month, a group of 15 young people from Lincoln Park, San Diego, who were alleged to be part of the notorious Lincoln Park gang, were charged with criminal conspiracy related to two dozen local shootings within San Diego County. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office (“DA”) charged the group for nine different gang-related shootings under CA Penal Code 182.5. One of the defendants, Aaron Harvey, 26, was arrested for murder, but maintains that he is innocent. Specifically, he was not involved in the shootings, but in this case the DA’s office claims that Harvey promoted the crimes by posting gang-related affiliations and threats on social media pages, and benefited from the ‘crime’ by gaining “street credibility.” Another defendant, local rapper “Tiny Doo,” whose lyrics reflect gang activity, is headed to trial.
As of now, five of the 15 defendants had their charges dropped at a hearing. There is still some confusion as to why the charges were dismissed for some defendants but not others and whether the judge can still dismiss charges for the remaining defendants. Harvey, who has no prior criminal conviction, now faces life in prison. He still maintains he is not part of a gang.
What is Criminal Conspiracy?
Under established common law, a criminal conspiracy exists when two or more people agree to commit almost any unlawful act, then take some action toward its completion. The action taken does not need to be a crime in itself, but must indicate that those involved in the conspiracy knew of the plan and intended to break the law.
CA Penal Code 182 defines criminal conspiracy as taking place when one: 1) agrees with one or more other people to commit a crime at some time in the future, and 2) one of them commits an overt act in furtherance of that agreement. For example, if you were involved in a conspiracy to commit murder, you may be found guilty if you committed an overt act such as purchasing the gun or weapon used.
About CA Penal Code 182.5
CA Penal Code 182.5 was passed by the California voters back in 2000 with Proposition 21, which toughened penalties for youth offenders. Under the law, active gang members may be charged for a crime even if they were not involved in it, as long as they promoted, assisted or benefited from the crime itself. Critics claim that the law is “constitutionally overbroad” and makes innocent people guilty by association. Additionally, there are public policy concerns of implying that those who were unlucky to grow up in a gang-ridden neighborhood are also ‘guilty by association.’
Defenses to a criminal conspiracy charge include:
- Showing there was no agreement
- Showing there was no overt act
- Showing that you did not intend to break the law (mistake of law)
- Showing that you withdrew from the conspiracy
- Showing that you were falsely accused
San Diego Criminal Conspiracy Lawyer
The Law Offices of David M. Boertje handles all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases including felony murder charges, all violent crimes, and assault and battery. We have successfully represented many defendants, including those with criminal conspiracy charges. If you have been charged with criminal conspiracy or crimes related to gang-related activity, contact attorney David Boertjie today.