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Understanding gang-related charges in California

California is a state that takes gang-related crime very seriously. Part of the concern with this, is the laws surrounding possible gang activity deal mainly with consequences -- and not prevention. The laws do not really address why juveniles, or adults, get involved in gangs in the first place.

When it comes to gang violence, police and official action happens quickly. Take for example a Sanger New Year's Day incident. A 23-year-old was shot and killed inside of an apartment complex: A low-income complex for families in a neglected area of the city. The death sparked immediate action by the police chief, mayor and a councilmember.

Hearing that gang members were living among the other tenants, representatives from the apartment complex immediately agreed to hire a security guard to watch the premises at night and put in security cameras. Five families living in the two-story, 45-unit complex also received eviction notices, after one of the owners claims they were associating with known gang members.

Looking at all sides of the story

Looking at this story, there is no way to deny the severity of the situation. A 23-year-old has passed away. When something like this happens, regardless of the cause, it's always sad. However, it is important to remember that there are two -- sometimes three -- sides to every story.

For example -- was the 23-year-old even in a gang? There is a big difference between police thinking someone is in a gang or somehow associated with a gang, versus actually being in a gang. And, if he was, why? That is the question that needs to be asked. Why would someone be in a gang? What is the appeal? Honest prevention measures means getting to the route cause and working from there to make change.

Unfortunately, this is not the way many officials and law enforcement look at gangs. Rather, their solutions involve charging juveniles as adults and enforcing strict and severe consequences, many times just trying to lock someone up for as long as possible.

Defense necessary with gang charges

At Schweitzer & Davidian, our attorneys have more than 25 years of experience defending against gang charges. We look at the whole story. Since we have so much experience, we know the tactics police use and the importance of building a case early on.

Gang-related charges are always serious. Even if you know you are innocent, do not just assume the prosecution will believe you. Rather, reach out to an attorney early on to make sure you have someone on your side.

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