Sentencing for a felony depends on a number of factors that range from the court’s discretion to the level of violence involved in the felony. In California, sentencing can be enhanced to include a greater punishment if it is found you were involved with a gang when you committed a felony offense.
The History of Penal Code 186.22
In response to increasing and widespread gang violence, California legislators enacted the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, commonly known as the STEP Act, in 1988.
The STEP Act defined exactly what a criminal street gang was. It also made it a crime to actively participate in a gang, and created a “sentencing enhancement” that called for harsher sentences if you commit a crime and are known to associate with gang members. 1
Gang Enhancement (PC 186.22)
Under California Penal Code 186.22, you may face a harsher punishment if you are convicted of a felony committed for the benefit of, direction of, or in association with a street gang. 2The additional punishment depends on the circumstances of the felony committed. It is up to the court to decide the specific sentence enhancement that best serves the interest of justice. 3
The extent of the sentence enhancement depends on whether the felony committed was on the grounds of or within 1,000 feet of school and whether the felony was committed during school hours or when minors are using the facility. 4
Crimes Affected Under PC 186.22
- Drug crimes
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Making criminal threats
- Sex crimes
- Robbery, and
How PC 186.22 Can Affect Your Sentence
The additional punishment under the gang enhancement provision of PC 186.22 depends on the felony committed.
General Gang Enhancement Sentencing
California PC 186.22 states that regardless of the type of felony that you are convicted of in association with a criminal street gang, you will face an additional term of 2, 3, or 4 years in prison at the court’s discretion. 5
If you are convicted of a serious felony committed in association with a criminal gang, you could be punished by an additional term of 5 years. 6 Serious felonies include:
- Assault with a deadly weapon
- Making criminal threats, and
- Certain drug crimes
If you are convicted of a violent felony committed in association with a criminal gang, you could be punished by an additional term of 10 years. 7Violent felonies include murder and certain sex crimes.
Specific Felonies Carry Even Greater Punishment
PC 186.22 lists specific felonies that, if convicted in association with a criminal gang, can result in greater penalties. 8 If you are convicted of felony home invasion robbery or felony carjacking in association with a criminal gang, you could face 15 years to life in a California state prison. 9 If you are convicted of felony extortion or making threats to victims and witnesses while in association with a gang, you face 7 years to life in prison. 10
Call the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime that might have been
committed in association with a criminal street gang, you need to contact Wallin & Klarich immediately. The criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending those facing criminal charges for over 40 years.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you now.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5425 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.
1. [PC 186.22]↩
2. [PC 186.22(b)]↩
3. [PC 186.22(b)(3)]↩
4. [PC 186.22(b)(2)]↩
5. [PC 186.22(b)(1)(A)]↩
6. [PC 186.22(b)(1)(B)]↩
7. [PC 186.22(b)(1)(C)]↩
8. [PC 186.22(b)(4)]↩
9. [PC 186.22(b)(4)(B)]↩
10. [PC 186.22(b)(4)(C)]↩