AB 333: Redefining California Gang Enhancement with Changes in Definitions and Prosecution Process

Jun 15, 2022

California Gang laws.jpg

AB 333 makes changes to current law that will reduce gang enhancements, and can possibly reduce the sentences of current inmates with gang enhancements. Amending Section 186.22 and adding Section 1109 to the Penal Code relating to criminal gangs, AB 333 makes several important changes to the law, including:

  • Redefining a “pattern of criminal gang activity;”

  • Updating the definition of “criminal street gang;”

  • Reducing the list of crimes eligible for gang enhancement charges;

  • Not allowing the instant charge to serve as proof as a “pattern” of criminal gang activity;

  • Separating a gang enhancement charge from the underlying charge.

This can not only reduce the number of people who can be charged with gang enhancements, but also reduces the number of "criminal street gangs" that would even qualify. Understanding the old law is important though.

What Was the OLD Gang Enhancement Law?

Penal Code § 186.22(b) provides that a defendant who is convicted of certain criminal offenses can face a greater sentence if the prosecution can prove the following:

  • The crime was committed for the benefit of the criminal street gang.

  • The defendant intended to assist, further or promote criminal conduct by gang members.

Penal Code § 186.22 is the California statute that prohibits criminal street gang activity. The old law defined a "criminal street gang" as three or more people in a group that has a common name or identifying sign or symbol, with one of that group's primary activities being the commission of one or more of certain enumerated criminal acts, or who collectively engage (or have engaged) in a pattern of criminal activity. People could be prosecuted under this section if they participate in a gang while committing a crime for the benefit of a gang, and the penalties are very harsh with some cases resulting in a life sentence in prison.

What is the NEW Gang Enhancement Law?

Under the new law this bill redefines “criminal street gang” as an ongoing, organized organization or group of 3 or more persons, whether formal or informal, having as one of its primary activities the commission of one or more of the enumerated criminal acts, having a common name or common identifying sign or symbol, and whose members collectively engage in, or have engaged in, a pattern of criminal gang activity.

AB 333, also called The STEP Forward Act, targets the discrimination that gang enhancements are causing by reducing the racial imbalance of enhancements in Penal Code (PC) 186.22 by adding Section 1109.

Some important goals AB 333 has included are listed as:

  • To end the prosecutors’ ability to claim that people are gang members because they are from the same community, related, or know one another.

  • To reduce the list of crimes allowed for gang enhancements.

  • To prohibit the use of the current change as proof of a “pattern” of criminal gang activity.

  • To require direct evidence of current gang activity by the defendant.

  • To separate gang allegations from underlying charges at trial.

If you or a loved one is currently facing charges relating to possible gang membership, or is currently serving a sentence which includes gang enhancements, contact us at once so we can provide the best possible criminal defense for you.

Category: Criminal Defense

Michael Mitchell

Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.

Home  |  Disclaimer  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Fresno Domestic Violence Attorney Near Me | Fresno Criminal Attorney Near Me | Fresno DUI Attorney Near Me

Mitchell Law Group, Inc.
334 W. Shaw Avenue, Suite A Fresno, CA 93704
Phone: 559-222-2424

Fresno Criminal and DUI Attorney
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.  Testimonials displayed on this website do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter

Michael E. Mitchell, at the Mitchell Law Group, Inc., is one of the top DUI defense attorneys in Fresno, California. He has over a decade of experience handling DUI cases throughout the Central Valley, including in Clovis, Madera, Tulare, Visalia. He is a certified field sobriety instructor and practitioner under the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and is a member of the California DUI Lawyers Association. His advice and knowledge is, routinely, sought after by other attorneys practicing in the area of DUI defense. He is an expert in the area of DUI defense in both Federal, State, and on the Appellate level. If you're looking for the best DUI Lawyer in Fresno to handle your case, give us a call today to see how we can put our knowledge to work for you.