Gang Enhancement Attorney
Penal Code section 186.22, also known as the Gang Enhancement, adds additional penalties to gang members who commit crimes. Penal Code section 186.22(a) penalizes gang members who willfully “promotes, furthers or assists felonious conduct” by other gang members. Penal Code section 186.22(a) is a wobbler. If the court grants probation to a defendant convicted of Penal Code section 186.22(a), then the minimum sentence is 180 days jail.
Penal Code section 186.22(b) adds an additional consecutive sentence to an underlying felony sentence if a defendant commits a felony “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang” if the defendant has the specific intent to “promote, further or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.” Specifically,
- Penal Code section 186.22(b)(1)(A) adds a consecutive term of 2, 3, or 4 years for any felony that is not serious or violent;
- Penal Code section 186.22(b)(1)(B) adds a consecutive term of 5 years if the underlying felony is serious, as defined by Penal Code section 1192.7(c); and
- Penal Code section 186.22(b)(1)(C) adds a consecutive term of 10 years if the underlying felony is violent, as defined by Penal Code section 667.5.
Furthermore, there are a few felonies, when committed for the benefit of the gang with the intent to promote the gang, that are punishable by life in prison, pursuant to Penal Code section 186.22(b)(4). The following are some of the crimes that come under this section and the minimum terms required:
- Home invasion robbery – Penal Code section 213(a)(1)(A) – 15 years to life
- Carjacking – Penal Code section 215 – 15 years to life
- Discharging a Firearm at an occupied house or car – Penal Code section 246 – 15 years to life[i]
- Extortion – Penal Code section 519 – 7 years to life
- Victim or Witness intimidation – Penal Code section 136.1 – 7 years to life
A felony conviction that is also punishable Penal Code section 186.22 is a serious felony as defined by Penal Code section 1192.7(c)(28). That means that any felony conviction that becomes punishable under Penal Code section 186.22 becomes a strike. If a defendant is charged with a “normal” felony but the DA adds an enhancement for Penal Code section 186.22(b)(1)(A), conviction of that felony and the enhancement turns the felony into a strike.
If a defendant is being charged with a gang enhancement, his penalties can jump up significantly. It’s important to hire an attorney that knows how to fight gang enhancements. In every gang trial that Mr. Thiagarajah has had, he has never had a defendant convicted of the gang enhancement.