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How gang activity may affect a drug trafficking sentence

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2020 | Drug Crimes

Drug trafficking comes with serious penalties in California, but the penalties may become harsher if the judge determines that there is gang-related activity involved, as well. 

According to California Penal Code 186.22(a), membership in a gang on its own can have consequences if the person knows that other members have engaged in criminal activity, and that person intentionally promotes or assists other members in a felony offense. Those consequences could include jail time of up to a year, or a prison sentence of between 16 months and three years. 

If the defendant receives a felony conviction for drug trafficking, and the judge determines that the offense involves gang-related activity, he or she could add two to four years to the sentence for drug trafficking. 

Aggravating factors that may also affect a gang member’s prison sentence include whether the offense occurred within 1,000 feet of a school during a time when the school is in use by minors. 

In some cases, the conviction could be a serious felony, as defined by Penal Code 1192.7, and then the judge may add five years to the sentence. A judge may determine the felony is serious if it involves a firearm, or if the defendant provided certain drugs to a minor. Kidnapping, assault, rape and other violent acts may also result in the classification of the felony as serious. 

These factors and others could also raise the classification of the felony to violent. If the judge determines that the offense involves a violent felony, then the alleged gang member would receive an extra 10 years to the prison sentence.