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Is it a crime to be affiliated with a gang?

Growing up, young people make mistakes. It's not unusual to find out that a young adult has made their way into a gang or that they've become affiliated. Unfortunately, that can become a negative influence quickly in that person's life.

Of course, in general, being in a gang is not enough to get you into trouble with the law. What is enough is if you are involved in gang activities that are illegal. Many states actually define gangs as groups that intend to commit crimes, so being affiliated with one can be bad news if you're accused of a crime.

Will you face harsher penalties if you're associated with a gang?

It's possible. The majority of the states in the county have what are known as gang enhancements. These are additions to any criminal charges solely for the reason that the person being prosecuted is part of a gang. This enhancement makes the penalties harsher if you're convicted of a crime.

Another thing to remember is that if the state issues a gang injunction, anyone associated with the gang may not be out in public. If you go out and represent the gang you're in, you could be arrested for violating the injunction alone.

Why are gang injunctions issued?

These are court-ordered times when those in gangs are not allowed to gather together, to wear certain colors or types of clothing and potentially when a curfew or other restrictions are in place. Anyone who violates the injunction, whether in a gang or not, could be searched by police after a legal stop. If it's then discovered that the person is associated with a gang, the officer may decide to arrest the individual.

Being part of a gang is more than just joining a group. It can make penalties harsher and expose you to the threat of arrest.

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