An association, group, or organization with three or more members is called a gang. It can either be casual or formal.
The gang must also have a common name, an identifying mark or symbol, and members who regularly commit crimes either individually or collectively.
How Do Youth Gangs Work?
A typical adolescent gang meets the same requirements as an adult gang. The only distinction is the group’s membership in a particular age range that is often below the majority age.
Is Being in a Gang Illegal?
Being a gang member may not always be criminal, although many states have passed legislation to prevent gang membership and gang activity. Because loitering is forbidden in many areas, it may be unlawful for gang members to gather in particular places, including on the street.
Conspiracy is a criminal; therefore, anyone who prepares to commit a crime with another person may be guilty of conspiracy. For instance, it is illegal in California to knowingly support or participate in any unlawful street gang activity.
What Qualifications Must a Group of Children Meet to Be Considered a Gang?
A youth gang is a type of association or organization that:
- Contains three or more members, each of whom is between the ages of 12 and 24
- Whose gang members use a common moniker or emblem to identify themselves as part of the group
- Whose members identify as members of a gang
- Who commits some type of crime
- Who acts in some capacity as an organization
Can Vandalism and Graffiti Be Considered Crimes?
Yes. Graffiti is when people paint, etch, scratch, or sketch on private property. Tagging is another name for this. Vandalism is the act of destroying someone else’s property. Vandalism and graffiti are two crimes that are usually connected to juvenile gangs.
What Are the Laws Against Gang Affiliation?
Due to the First Amendment’s provision of the right to assemble freely, belonging to a gang cannot constitute a crime in the United States. Every citizen of the United States has the freedom to join any club or organization, regardless of how objectionable its principles may be.
Many states have passed legislation that focuses on gang affiliation to deter gangs from engaging in illegal activity. As was previously mentioned, each state has its own definition of a gang, particularly when it comes to youth gangs.
Members who actively engage in illegal conduct may entice others to do the same.
Generally speaking, regulations against gang affiliation target those who may not actually be confirmed as formal members of a criminal organization. However, they might face legal repercussions due to their affiliation with gangs, gang members, or gang activity.
For instance, if someone is caught making graffiti linked to a certain gang, their sentence for tagging may increase because of the gang’s connection.
What Are the Federal Laws Prohibiting Gang Membership?
Currently, the federal government does not specifically prohibit gang membership. However, it does so in accordance with the strong federal statute known as the Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act, which brings criminal gangs or group members to justice (RICO).
A statute intended to combat organized crime is known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. For racketeering activity that is carried out as part of the management of an ongoing criminal organization, RICO enables prosecutors to pursue both a criminal conviction and civil sanctions.
Racketeering is conducting an illegitimate criminal enterprise. This kind of crime is frequently connected to the mafia and other organized criminal groups.
A RICO conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail. However, if the crime involved a potential life sentence in prison, the terms of imprisonment may be for life.
The forfeiture of any assets that a person acquired through racketeering or gang activities may also be one of the sanctions. A RICO criminal conviction may result in civil fines depending on the offense committed.
The amount of compensation is set at three times the actual damages. It is significant to remember that involvement in a racketeering offense under RICO also entails gang membership or connection.
The government must prove that the defendant directly took part in a criminal enterprise that affected interstate or international trade and that the perpetrator engaged in two or more instances of racketeering to secure a conviction under RICO.
The following offenses and others may be the basis for a RICO conviction:
What is a Gang Enhancement?
Crimes committed by a criminal street gang are punishable more severely in many jurisdictions. A person may be sentenced to an additional 2 to 10 years in prison in addition to the original sentence if they are found to be a violent street gang member.
The prosecution must demonstrate the following elements in order to use a gang enhancement:
- Active participation in a gang;
- Knowledge that the gang’s members engaged in a pattern of illegal behavior; and
- Willingness to promote, facilitate, or aid any conduct by the gang.
The conduct, attempted commission, solicitation, conspiracy, and/or conviction of two or more crimes done on at least two different occasions within a constrained time frame are all considered patterns of criminal behavior. The pattern of illegal behavior doesn’t need to be gang-related.
It is significant to remember that a defendant does not need to be the gang’s leader or even one of its members in order to apply a gang enhancement.
Is Belonging to a Gang Considered Terrorism?
State anti-terrorism legislation may, in some cases and in some places, stipulate harsher punishments for crimes that are committed if the crime is regarded as a type of terrorism.
For instance, gang members who planned to intimidate or coerce a civilian population in New York were detained under anti-terrorism statutes.
Does Each State Have its Own Definition of a Gang?
Yes, the definitions of gangs and youth gangs vary from state to state. Contact a lawyer if you have questions about the gang laws in your area.
Are All Youth Gangs Regarded as Violent Gangs?
No. Criminal and non-criminal acts of violence are both considered to be gang violence. This violence is carried out by a group that identifies as a gang. A young gang must participate in certain criminal actions in order to qualify as a violent youth gang:
- Felony offenses involving several acts of bodily injury to a victim
- Intimidating or posing a threat to witnesses
- Sex offenses
Do I Need Legal Representation if I’m Accused of Being in a Youth Gang?
Youth gangs have the potential to participate in violent crimes that are often the domain of adult gangs. You could be judged guilty of the crimes through conspiracy even if you don’t actively take part in your gang’s illicit operations. If you or someone you know has been charged with belonging to a child gang, it is in your best interest to get in touch with a juvenile attorney.
Do not let your future be placed in jeopardy. You can hire an experienced lawyer to represent you and protect your rights. The first thing you should do is find a qualified lawyer through LegalMatch. Your attorney can explain your rights and defend you in court. Use LegalMatch to find the right lawyer for your needs today.