In October of this year, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department this week showcased a program that focuses on gang enforcement with two new gang teams and a new homicide team. This program is set to be formed from redirected resources from the newly defunct narcotics enforcement team. It has been reported that over the past six months, the Desert Gang Team has made over 250 arrests, seized 58 firearms and documented 347 gang members and associates.
The shift is a response to California’s Proposition 47, approved last year, which reduced the penalties for the possession of most controlled substances from felonies to misdemeanors. As a result, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Narcotics Division was re-designated the Gangs/Narcotics Division. The Valley Gang Team is responsible for the metropolitan areas of the county from the borders with Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties extending to the Yucaipa Valley, including the mountains. The Desert Gang Team is responsible for the desert areas of the county.
California’s Gang Laws
Southern California is known for being a major hub of gang activity, and as a result there are many laws in the state’s Penal Code that address gang activity.
Penal Code 186.22 is part of the “California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act” – more commonly referred to as California’s street gang enhancement law. It specifically makes it a crime to participate in a street gang and assist in any felony criminal conduct by the gang’s members. A conviction is a felony punishable by up to three years imprisonment. Additionally, the ‘gang enhancement’ portion of the statute states that anyone who commits a felony for the benefit of a gang (ie. robbery) will receive a mandatory prison sentence in addition to the penalty s/he receives for the underlying felony committed. This could mean an additional 15 to 25 years in prison, even if you are not a gang member.
Penal Code 26100 is known as California’s “drive by shooting law.” It specifically makes it a crime to:
- Allow a passenger to bring a gun into your car;
- Allow a passenger to fire a gun from a car;
- Discharge a gun from the car;
- Shoot at someone from a car.
Depending on the act committed, it may be a misdemeanor (ie. bringing a gun into the car) or a felony. A misdemeanor conviction is punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine, while a felony is punishable by up to seven years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
Committing either of these crimes will also count as a “strike” against you for California’s three strikes law.
San Diego Criminal Conspiracy, Gang, and Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Law Offices of David M. Boertje have successfully represented many defendants, including those accused of participating in gang activity. We handle all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases including felony murder charges, all violent crimes, criminal conspiracy, drug-related charges, and assault and battery. If you have been charged with criminal conspiracy or crimes related to gang-related activity, contact San Diego criminal defense attorney David Boertje today. Consultations are free and confidential.