Every U.S. citizen can legally associate with other people. But with the constant increase in group gang activities, one can easily be mistaken for being a member. Three people are sufficient to form a street gang in Seattle, and your case might be handled more strictly if you are affiliated with one.
The goal of gang-related enhancements is to discourage people from engaging in crime for the wrong reasons. However, the laws can be confusing with unknown possibilities. This makes it critical for accused persons to take the initiative to better the outcomes of their charges. And with a Seattle criminal justice attorney by your side, you are assured of the best legal assistance.
What Penalties Can I Expect if My Crime is Gang-Related?
The penalties for a gang-related crime might not be the same as the exact charges without a gang relation. A convict acting on behalf of a gang or committing a crime to enhance gang interests can get a light sentence and fines or life imprisonment.
Notably, the specifics of the enhancement depend on whether it is a violent felony, a serious felony, or a generic felony. A gang crimes lawyer in Seattle can examine your situation, explain what is at stake, and help fight off the dire consequences of these types of offenses.
Are the Penalties Necessarily Lesser if it is Not Gang-Related?
Being cleared from gang association is a great thing, but does not guarantee that your sentencing will be favorable. The judge and the jury consider several other things when sentencing a guilty person. The severity of your sentence might depend on:
- The nature of the offense
- Your criminal history
- The seriousness of the crime
Even if you are acquitted of street gang relations, you still have to fight for a dismissal or the least possible sentence. For instance, being a first-time offender can be used to your advantage. Your Seattle gang crimes attorney could convince the jury that it would be just to give you the least possible sentence based on the circumstances.
How Can One Defend Oneself Against the Penalties of a Gang-Related Activity?
Criminal gang affiliation is a tool frequently used by the prosecution, and can affect your sentencing in Seattle. But if you can defend yourself adequately, you can neutralize or minimize the negative possibilities. Possible defenses include arguments that you:
- Did not act for the benefit of a gang
- Were not an active participant in a gang
- Did not commit the alleged offense
Not that gang enhancement only applies if you actually committed the alleged crime. But if you can prove that you didn’t commit the crime, you can easily be acquitted. Also, your case might have better outcomes if you can show that you are only a gang member by name, are not an active member, or have no gang affiliation.
How Different is a Defense if it is Not Gang-Related?
The arguments for a non-gang-related accusation typically focus on the offense. It requires a deep understanding of the laws governing the crime and open conversations with the accused person. Clients should know that a Seattle criminal defense attorney isn’t allowed to disclose information shared, even if you don’t retain them.
Your side of the story helps an attorney understand your case’s strengths and weaknesses. However, such information should not be shared with law enforcement officers. Instead, you should remain quiet, until your attorney arrives. This way, the prosecution won’t have leverage based on what you’ve disclosed.
How Do the Police Differentiate Gang Members From Non-Gang Members?
Law enforcement officers can use age, race, tattoos, symbols, and clothing to look out for gang members. They can also enact gang injunctions in an area with a spike in such criminal activities. For instance, the police could:
- Impose a curfew
- Prohibit loitering
- Prohibit certain colors from being worn in clothing
- Prohibit people from gathering together in the streets
However, many innocent persons could be tagged as gang members since the approach casts a wide net. So, if you are arrested for accusations of being part of a street gang, you can still prove your innocence. Ensure that you seek legal guidance from an experienced gang crimes lawyer in Seattle.
Does One Need an Attorney in Both Instances?
Whether your criminal charges involve a gang enhancement or not, it is not advisable to go into it alone. Accused persons need legal guidance regardless of the circumstances surrounding the accusations. Note that the defense approach might be different in each case.
People without gang affiliations only have to develop a defense strategy for the specific crime. Attorneys of those accused of acting criminally for a street gang, on the other hand, need to work twice harder. They will not only be defending you against the felony or misdemeanor, but also disputing the alleged gang affiliation.
What Kind of Attorney Does One Need?
Not every lawyer can adequately represent you when charged with a crime, gang-related or otherwise. Accused persons need a legal expert who’s familiar with the legal process in Washington State. You need someone that can navigate the confusion in the laws regarding street gangs and work on the best possible outcome.
Note that winning a criminal case requires considerable experience and skillful representation. A Seattle gang crimes lawyer can incorporate their knowledge of Washington laws to prepare solid arguments that could earn you sentence reductions and lesser penalties.
Attorneys Fighting For Your Rights and Freedom
Whether you are affiliated with a street gang or not, you have rights. And if you are accused falsely of being a member of a street gang, it is imperative to fight. If nobody is present to fight for you, you can easily get the harshest consequences and life-changing penalties.
Our lawyers have a record of successfully defending clients accused of all manner of crimes in Seattle. Speak to us today if you need someone to thoroughly investigate your case, protect you, and defend you.