Georgia Criminal Street Gang Act – Fulton County

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said last month that Fulton County has a “gang problem” and that her office is committed to prosecuting gang members to combat violent crime. DA Willis went on to say that there are at least 50,000 active gang members in the metro Atlanta area.

So if the Fulton County District Attorney’s office charges you with being in a criminal street gang and returns an indictment against you, here are the elements that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the Fulton County District Attorney.

  1. You are associated either directly or indirectly with a group.

It is not enough to say you are just associated with a group. The Georgia Criminal Street Gang statute does not criminalize membership with a group. It must be proven in court that you actively participated in criminal street gang activity through the commission of an actual criminal act.

  1. The group itself has to be a criminal street gang.

This means that three or more people have organized themselves to engage in criminal activity. This can be proven with a common name, signs, symbols, graffiti, clothing or other distinguishing items.

  1. The defendant committed a criminal street gang activity.

The Fulton District Attorney must prove that you committed, attempted to commit, conspired to commit or intimidated another person to commit any offense in O.C.G.A. 16-15-3.

  1. This act was in furtherance of the criminal street gang.

There must be some link between your specific act and the intent to further the interest of your gang. The Fulton County District Attorney must prove that you had the specific intent to further the interest of your gang.

It is vital that if you are arrested under the gang statute in Fulton County, that you do not make any statements to the police. Hire an attorney immediately. The Fulton County District Attorney’s office is zealously prosecuting gang cases and has an entire unit dedicated to prosecuting gang cases. You must take your case seriously and challenge every aspect of the State’s case.

Also, remember that all phone calls in the Fulton County jail are being recorded. Do not profess your innocence on a recorded phone line.

Give us a call at 404-581-0999. We are located just a few blocks from the Fulton County Courthouse at 100 Peachtree Street, Suite 2060, Atlanta, GA 30303.

Arrested for Gang Activity in Fulton County

The Fulton County District Attorney’s office is cracking down on gangs in the Atlanta area. If you are charged with being in a criminal street gang, do not make any statements to the police. You have a Constitutional right to remain silent.

If you are arrested for being in a criminal street gang, then you will be in front of a Fulton County Magistrate Court judge the following day after your arrest. You will need an attorney for this hearing.

OCGA 16-15-4 sets out the offenses that are related to criminal street 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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  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 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.
  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 of 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 providing statements or testimony against criminal street gangs or any criminal street gang member or associate.
  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 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.

 

The Fulton County District Attorney’s office is indicting many cases under the street gang statute. You do not have to be an actual gang member to be indicted under this statute.

The sentence for a conviction for OCGA 16-15-4 is a minimum of 5 years in prison and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine between $ 10,000 – $ 15,000.

If you are charged in Fulton County with violating the criminal street gang statute, please call us at 404-581-0999. You need to zealously defend yourself against these allegations.

Violation of Georgia Gang Act

Are you or is someone you love facing gang related charges in the State of Georgia?  If so, it’s important to know the law and how you will be prosecuted. A good starting place is simply to read what the State must prove in order to charge you with these crimes.

What is the Law?

To prove you violated the Georgia Street Gang Act the State is required to show four things:

  1. The State must prove the existence of a criminal gang.  Georgia defines “criminal street gang” as “any organization, association, or group of three or more persons that engages in criminal gang activity.” “Criminal gang activity” includes the commission or attempted commission of certain offenses, including any crime“that involves violence, possession of a weapon, or use of a weapon;”
  2. you were, in fact, a member of the“criminal gang;”
  3. you committed a predicate act of“criminal gang activity,” examples of a predicate act include Murder, armed robbery, robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, battery, and simple battery, Georgia law makes it unlawful to participate in criminal gang activity through the commission of any of the following offenses: racketeering,stalking, rape, aggravated sodomy, possessing or distributing dangerous instrumentalities such as knives and guns, posting gang-related graffiti, or committing any criminal offense involving violence or the possession or use of a weapon, among other things;
  4. the commission of the predicate act was intended to further the interests of the “criminal gang.” Simply being a gang member and committing the offense is not enough.

Assuming you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the predicate act, the battle lines are twofold.  One, that you are a member of the gang that engages in criminal activity. Two, that the act was to further the interests of the criminal gang. 

What’s My Defense?

In my experience, the second battle line is where we generally focus the majority of our efforts. Most of the evidence presented by the state that your conduct is furthering the interests of the gang comes from expert testimony – law enforcement mainly regurgitate what they are told from their training and unreliable statements of former arrestees.

 The defense is at a disadvantage to combat the state’s expert.  First, the defense needs to hire their own expert to combat what is said, but defense experts on gang activity are often scarce and expensive. Secondly, it is near impossible to get a current or former gang member to come to court to testify as to what the interest of the gang may be.  I cannot imagine a situation where a current gang member is going to testify in open court as to his experience. 

Call Us Today

This being said, we have a team of attorneys that are fully prepared to handle your case, and have done so Atlanta and surrounding counties. If you find that you are being prosecuted for gang activity, please call our office at 404-581-0999 for your free consultation.

by Scott Smith