McDonough Gang Affiliation Charges Lawyer

Criminal gang behavior is widely considered to be a problem in Georgia. As a result, the government has passed legislation specifically targeting gang activity. These laws are controversial, however. While the Georgia Supreme Court has upheld their constitutionality, there are still many who question that decision. Even with Georgia’s strict laws, there are many ways to defend against these charges. We can help put together a formidable defense against charges if you or a loved one are facing criminal gang affiliation charges in McDonough, Georgia.

McDonough Gang Affiliation Charges Lawyer

Criminal Street Gang

The law in Georgia sets parameters for what is considered a “criminal street gang.” They are:

  • A group of three or more people, either formally or informally
  • Engagement in criminal gang activity

The existence of the groups must be established, and the law sets criteria for how this can be done. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Signs
  • Symbols
  • Tattoos
  • Graffiti
  • Attire
  • Activities
  • Customs
  • Behaviors

Criminal Gang Activity

The law also lays out a broad definition of what is considered to initiate criminal gang activity:

  • Commission
  • Attempted commission
  • Conspiracy to commit
  • Soliciting another person to commit
  • Coercing another person to commit
  • Intimidation of another person to commit

Gang activity includes any of the following crimes:

  • A criminal offense involving the possession or use of a weapon
  • A criminal offense involving violence
  • Rape
  • Aggravated sexual battery
  • Stalking
  • Criminal trespassing
  • Criminal damage to property
  • Racketeering
  • Encourage or aid a child in escaping custody

Criminal Gang Activity Laws

Under the criminal gang activity law, it is illegal to:

  • Participate in criminal gang activity through the commission of a crime by anyone associated with or employed by a gang.
  • Commit an offense to obtain membership or increase status in a gang.
  • Acquire or maintain property or money through criminal gang activities.
  • Encourage others to participate in a criminal gang.
  • Threaten others who are trying to encourage someone to leave a gang.
  • Threaten anyone testifying against a gang.
  • Threaten anyone reporting gang activity.

Proving Gang Activity

To get a conviction on gang activity charges, the prosecution must prove four things:

  • The defendant must have a demonstrated association with a group, indirectly or directly. Association alone, though, is not enough for a conviction.
  • The group must be shown to be a criminal street gang. This gang can be established by showing that it meets the established criteria.
  • It must be demonstrated that the defendant committed criminal gang activity. The crime must be something that fits the definition of criminal gang activity according to Georgia law.
  • The prosecution must demonstrate that the activity was intended to advance the interests of the gang. In other words, if the crime was unaffiliated with the gang, then it does not meet this requirement.

Gang Activity Defenses

The most effective form of defense in most criminal gang activity cases is to attack the prosecution’s attempt to establish the four criteria. Proving all four can be difficult and often relies on “expert witnesses.” The credibility of those witnesses can be challenged. Much of the information the witnesses work off is second-hand and not direct knowledge. It may be dismissed as hearsay.

The fourth criterion, proving the act is meant to further the interests of the gang, can also often be a weak point for the prosecution. The prosecution must provide evidence showing that the defendant’s intent was to commit criminal gang activity to benefit the gang. The validity of that evidence can be challenged.

Putting forth the most effective defense against criminal gang activity charges requires a criminal defense lawyer who is creative and pays careful attention to detail. Our team can exhaust every possibility when defending our clients against these kinds of charges.

FAQs About McDonough, GA Gang Affiliation Charges Laws

What Is a Criminal Street Gang in Georgia?

In Georgia, the law defines a criminal street gang as consisting of both formal and informal groups of three or more people who engage in criminal gang activity. The law recognizes that the gang may be identified by symbols, tattoos, signs, attire and other distinguishing markings. Similarly, the gang may also be recognized by common behaviors, activities, and customs. It’s important to recognize that the gang must be involved in criminal activity, so any of these distinguishing characteristics are irrelevant if people choose to informally or formally participate in organizations with non-criminal activity.

How Does Georgia Define Criminal Gang Activity?

In Georgia, criminal gang activity is both direct and indirect involvement in committing or planning to commit crimes that involve:

  • Violence
  • Possession or use of a weapon
  • Criminal trespassing or damage to property
  • Aggravated sexual battery
  • Helping a child escape from custody

What Is the Penalty for Participating in Criminal Gang Activity?

Charges for criminal gang activity will be considered a felony offense. The particulars of sentencing will be determined based on the nature of the violation and the criminal background of the defendant. Sentences can include a fine of $10,000 to $15,000, a prison sentence of five to twenty years, or a combination of both.

How Can You Defend Against Gang Charges?

There are a few different ways in which gang charges can be challenged. One method is to challenge any of the four criteria that the prosecution must prove, which are:

  1. The defendant is associated with a gang, either indirectly or directly.
  2. The gang is a criminal street gang.
  3. A criminal street gang activity was committed by the defendant.
  4. The act was meant to advance the interests of the gang.

Don’t Fight Gang Charges Alone

Georgia’s gang charges are relatively new. They can be challenged in court, but it requires a legal team that is talented enough to pick apart the prosecution’s case, challenge the supposed “expert witnesses” on gang activity, and question the constitutionality of the statute.

You are going to need more than what a public defender can offer. With the team at Miller North & Brill on your side, you can have the benefit of a skilled legal team and experienced trial lawyers on your side. Contact us today to let us build a strong case on your behalf.

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