Gang

Have you Been Charged with Criminal Gang Participation in Georgia?

Georgia has many crimes that relate to gang activity. It is important to know the difference and understand that you don't have to be a member of a gang and directly commit a crime to be convicted of gang activity. There are various other ways you may be charged or convicted of gang activity. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys have over 20 years of experience in criminal law. A charge for participation in gang activity is not the same as a conviction. You need competent representation from the very beginning. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

Georgia Law on Participation in Criminal Gang Activity

O.C.G.A. §16-15-4 sets out the offenses that are related to criminal gang activity. It is unlawful for:

  1. A person employed or associated with a criminal street gang to conduct or participate in criminal gang activity through the commission of a crime.
  2. Any person to commit an offense with the intent to obtain or earn membership or maintain or increase his or her status or position in a criminal street gang.
  3. Any person to acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, through criminal gang activity or proceeds derived from any interest in or control of any real or personal property of any nature, including money.
  4. Any person who occupies a position of organizer, a supervisory position, or any other position of management or leadership with regard to a criminal street gang to engage in, directly or directly, or conspire to engage in criminal gang activity.
  5. Any person to cause, encourage, solicit, recruit, or coerce another to become a member or associate of a criminal street gang, to participate in a criminal street gang, or to conduct or participate in criminal gang activity.
  6. Any person to communicate, directly or indirectly, with another any threat of injury or damage to the person or property of the other person or of any associate or relative of the other person with the intent to deter such person from assisting a member or associate of a criminal street gang to withdraw from such criminal street gang.
  7. Any person to communicate, directly or indirectly, with another any threat of injury or damage to the person or property of the other person or of any associate or relative of the other person with the intent to punish or retaliate against such person for refusing to or encouraging another to refuse to become or obtain the status of a member or associate of a criminal street gang.
  8. Any person to communicate, directly or indirectly, with another any threat of injury or damage to the person or property of the other person or of any associate or relative of the other person with the intent to punish or retaliate against such person for refusing to or encouraging another to refuse to become or obtain the status of a member of associate of a criminal street gang.
  9. Any person to communicate, directly or indirectly, with another any threat of injury or damage to the person or property of the other person or of any associate or relative of the other person with the intent to punish or retaliate against such person for providing statements or testimony against criminal street gangs or any criminal street gang member or associate.
  10. Any person to communicate, directly or indirectly, with another any threat of injury or damage to the person or property of the other person or of any associate or relative of the other person with the intent to intimidate, deter, or prevent such person from communicating to any law enforcement or corrections officer, prosecuting attorney, or judge information relating to criminal street gangs, criminal street gang members or associates, or criminal gang activity.

"Criminal gang activity" means the commission, attempted commission, conspiracy to commit, or solicitation, coercion, or intimidation of another person to commit any of the following offenses on or after July 1, 2006: racketeering activity, rape, aggravated sexual battery, aiding or encouraging a child to escape from custody, criminal trespass or criminal damage to property, or any criminal offense in the State of Georgia, or in the United States that involves violence or possession or use of a weapon. O.C.G.A. 16-5-3(1).

"Criminal street gang" means any organization, association, or group of three or more persons associated in fact, whether formal or informal, which engages in criminal gang activity as defined in paragraph (1) of this Code section. The existence of such organization, association, or group of individuals associated in fact may be established by evidence of a common name or common identifying signs, symbols, tattoos, graffiti, or attire or other distinguishing characteristics, including, but not limited to, common activities, customs, or behaviors. Such term shall not include three or more persons, associated in fact, whether formal or informal, who are not engaged in criminal gang activity. O.C.G.A. §16-5-3(2).

Georgia Case Law

In the case of Nolley v. State, the defendant was convicted of violating multiple sections of the Georgia criminal gang statute. 335 Ga. App. 539, (2016). Nolley, the accused, was a high-ranking member and organizer of a criminal street gang known as the Gangster Disciples. Nolley got together with multiple other members and a couple of non-members and set forth a plan to rob the victim. Nolley directed the plan to rob the victim to get respect from the victim and take over his marijuana territory and a co-defendant was supposed to get an increase in rank in the gang for driving a car occupied by defendant. In addition, Nolley contacted a co-defendant by cell phone to arrange to get a gun from co-defendant that was subsequently used in the robbery. Therefore, that evidence was sufficient to support Nolley's convictions under O.C.G.A. §16-15-4(a),(b), and (d) and that he was guilty of encouraging others to participate in criminal gang activity.

Penalty for Participating in Gang Activity

The sentence for a conviction of O.C.G.A. §16-15-4 (a)-(c) is a felony conviction with consequences of a prison sentence for at least five years but no more than twenty years or pay a fine between $10,000.00 and $15,000.00, or both.

The consequences for violating O.C.G.A. §16-15-4(d)-(j) is a felony conviction and a prison term between five and twenty years.

In addition to a prison sentence or a fine, the Court will also impose a special condition that the accused will not knowingly have contact of any kind or interact with any other member or association of a criminal street gang. The court will order the accused not to participate in any criminal gang activity, and in cases involving a victim, shall not knowingly contact of any kind or character with any such victim or any member of any such victim's family or household.

Defenses to Gang Activity

A crime was committed, but it was not connected to gang activity: There are instances where a defendant commits a criminal offense, but the prosecutor alleges gang charges in addition to the substantive offense. Some examples include drug sales, assault, etc. A connection to gang activity can sometimes make jurors more likely to convict and the penalty aggravated. The Law Office of Richard Lawson and his team of Attorneys can help show that although a crime was committed; it was for personal reasons and not on behalf of a gang. This could save you years in prison.

Lack of evidence of a connection to a gang: Your Attorney can demand that the prosecution turns over all of its “gang evidence” in order to comb through every detail and make sure everything adds up. During the trial, lawyers can try and discredit the gang allegations.

What are not Defenses

I was not directly involved in the crime: The statute states numerous times that a person can be directly or indirectly connected to the crime. You do not have to be the one who directly commits the offense to be found guilty. If you are found to be connected in an indirect way, you may still be facing a conviction.  

It was just a threat: Under O.C.G.A. §16-15-4(f)-(j), threats will still be punished and carry significant penalties. Also, it does not matter if the person communicated the threat directly or indirectly; they can still be convicted.

Contact Us

A charge of criminal gang activity needs to be addressed from the very beginning. Our Georgia Attorneys are waiting for your call and can give you a free case evaluation. There are tons of crimes that are considered gang activity and it is important to hire a Lawyer who is familiar with criminal law and the penalties. Don't wait because your future is at stake.

Contact Us Today for Immediate Help

The time is now to start preparing your defense! Many times people lose the opportunity to put on their best defense because they wait. The importance of hiring a lawyer from the very beginning cannot be overstated! Waiting allows for witnesses to leave the area, evidence to be lost, and memories to fade. All of these have a direct effect on the successful on your case. The time to begin your case and start prepping your defense is now! Contact us today to put on your best Georgia criminal defense!

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