As an American citizen, you have the right to affiliate with any individual. Unfortunately, friendships can mean legal trouble when your social circle includes gang members. If you are facing criminal accusations, these relationships might play a role.
The reason is that gangs have reputations for committing criminal acts. Specific laws increase penalties against alleged members. The hope is that they curb destructive behavior.
Depending on the state where a trial is happening, a prosecutor may be able to include a gang enhancement. This optional charge can lead to extra time behind bars and heftier fines. A gang enhancement might transform a punishment from a few years of prison into a life sentence.
There are many reasons why gang enhancements are under heavy criticism. Social activists and civil rights leaders are particularly vocal in their opposition. They argue that these rules only increase mass incarceration and disrupt community relations. Some even opine they are racist.
Certain geographic areas have more crime. Many believe this comes from the presence of gangs. Local governments subsequently pass laws affecting those with particular associations. For example, individuals wearing clothes with specific color combinations cannot enter designated establishments. Police might have orders to enforce curfews or break up targeted social gatherings. Law enforcement officials in these zones also have greater leeway when performing searches.
While many consider them unjust, anti-gang laws exist. In qualified instances, they make defending against criminal charges more difficult. Understanding how they affect your case is essential to minimizing the fallout.