Criminal Street Gangs

Attorney Richard M. Oberto understands the hardship that people face when charged with gang crimes. The allegations frequently seem confusing to non-lawyers. The potential punishments are substantial. Prosecutors typically rely on testimony of “gang experts” to prove their case. Prosecution experts may present conclusions that are based on speculative theories and unfounded factual claims. Despite weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, an accused person may fear that the legal system will have difficulty treating him fairly if he is accused of gang allegations.

Mr. Oberto has a breadth of experience handling the most complicated cases and defending against the most inflammatory allegations. He has delivered the best results in cases that seemed the most difficult.

Gang Restraining Orders

Mr. Oberto is familiar with the tactics that prosecutors use in attempting to prosecute alleged gang crimes. One tactic that has come under scrutiny is the issuance of gang restraining orders. Prosecutors might serve one alleged gang member with a restraining order and argue that the service applied applied to a large number of other alleged gang members. The restraining order typically restricts alleged gang members from being present in broad swaths of the local community. Once the restraining order has been served on a single person, law enforcement authorities may descend on a neighborhood and arrest a large number of community members to whom the restraining order allegedly applies.

Mr. Oberto has experience defending these cases involving gangs and gang restraining orders. He can draw from his experience in criminal and civil law to provide the best defense.

Active Participation in a Criminal Street Gang

Penal Code section 186.22(a) defines the crime of active participation in a criminal street gang. The crime is a “wobbler” offense, meaning that it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. As a felony, it is punishable by an imprisonment term of 16 months or two or three years or by up to one year in the county jail. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to one year in the county jail. Substantial fines also can be imposed. The crime requires proof that at least two members of the same gang participated in committing a felony offense.

Committing a Crime for the Benefit of a Criminal Street Gang

Penal Code section 186.22(b) defines a conduct enhancement for committing a felony or misdemeanor for the benefit of a criminal street gang. The enhancement adds significant potential punishments to an underlying felony offense. It adds ten years in prison for a violent felony, five years for a serious felony, and up to four years for other felonies. The terms “violent” and “serious” are defined in Penal Code sections 667.5(c) and 1192.7(c)(1) respectively.

The enhancement for committing a crime to benefit a gang also has substantial implications when applied to misdemeanors. Although the enhancement does not increase the maximum punishment, it increases the minimum punishment to 180 days in jail.

Criminal Street Gang Firearm Enhancement

Penal Code section 12022.53 defines a gang-related firearm enhancement. For the enhancement to apply, the prosecution must prove that the accused person committed an underlying felony for the benefit of a criminal street gang and that a “principal” used or intentionally discharged a firearm in committing the felony.

A “principal” under section 12022.53 can be anyone who committed the underlying felony or who aided and abetted the commission of the underlying felony. The extent of the punishment enhancement depends on whether the firearm was used, whether it was discharged, and whether anyone was injured. The punishment enhancements can range from a minimum of of 10 years for use of a firearm to a maximum of 25 years to life for discharging a firearm and causing great bodily injury.

Experience and Expert Knowledge

Mr. Oberto welcomes people to contact him 24/7 at (559) 221-2557 to request an initial consultation. Se habla Espanol.

People also may contact Mr. Oberto to request an initial consultation using the contact form available on this website. Please do not use the contact form to write down sensitive information. Information communicated over the internet, including through this website, may not be considered confidential or privileged.

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