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:
- 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;”
- you were, in fact, a member of the“criminal gang;”
- 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;
- 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