Kern County has seen a significant increase in the prosecution of so-called criminal street gang offenses. When the prosecutor charges an individual with active participation in a criminal street gang or committing a crime for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal street gang, the penalties can be severe. The law provides that a person can be charged with committing the offense of active participation in a criminal street gang, if there is evidence that the accused participated in the gang and knew that members of the gang engaged in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal street gang activity. The prosecutor must prove that the accused willfully assisted or promoted felonious criminal conduct by members of the gang either by directly committing a felony or aiding and abetting a felony offense. This statute also provides that the accused can be charged with an enhancement if the accused committed a crime for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal street gang and the accused intended to assist, further, or promote criminal conduct by gang members. The prosecutor is not required to prove that the accused is an active or current member of the alleged criminal street gang to prove this particular enhancement.
Criminal street gang cases often require extensive investigation into the facts and circumstances that resulted in an arrest. Much of the prosecutor’s case is dependent on the interpretation of the facts and circumstances, which requires prosecutors to rely on the opinions and conclusions of the so-called “gang expert”. It is critical to a successful defense, that the defense attorney effectively cross-examine the prosecutor's “gang expert” to challenge his/her opinions and conclusions. Many times what is charged as a gang activity crime, is not.
H.A. Sala has handled numerous gang cases and can effectively cross-examine the “gang expert” to advance a successful defense on your behalf.
If you are charged with any gang-related crime, contact the Law Offices of H.A. Sala.