How to Determine if You Are a "Gang Member" in the State of Florida
What is a "Criminal Gang" in the State of Florida?Under Florida Statute 874.03 (1):
"Criminal gang" means a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group that has as one of its primary activities the commission of criminal or delinquent acts, and that consists of three (3) or more persons who have a common name or common identifying signs, colors, or symbols, including, but not limited to, terrorist organizations and hate groups.
Therefore, you must ask yourself.... Do I have two friends or associates that look like me? act like me? and/or commit crimes with me?
If You Think You May Fit the Description in Step 1, Determine Whether You Are a "Gang Associate" or a "Gang Member"Under Florida law, a criminal "gang associate" is a person who:
"admits to criminal gang association"; or meets any single defining criterion for criminal gang membership described in Step 3....
In comparison, a criminal "gang member" is a person who:
meets two or more of the criteria listed in Step 3....
Analyze the Criteria That Will Determine Whether You Are a "Gang Associate" or a "Gang Member"Under Florida Statute 874.03(3), the following factors (paraphrased below) are used in documenting "gang associates" and "gang members:" (a) Admits to gang membership; (b) Is identified as a gang member by a parent/guardian; (c) Is identified as a gang member by a reliable informant; (d) Adopts the style of dress of a gang: (e) Adopts the use of a hand sign used by a gang; (f) Has a tattoo used by a gang; (g) Associates with one or more known gang members; (h) Is identified as a gang member by an informant of previously untested reliability and such identification is corroborated by independent information; (i) Is identified as a gang member by physical evidence; (j) Has been observed in the company of one or more gang members four or more times; (k) Has authored any communication indicating responsibility for the commission of any crime by a criminal gang.
What is "Criminal Gang Activity?"Even if you are a "gang associate" or a "gang member" as described in Step 3, you cannot be prosecuted under the enhanced penalites of Chapter 874 until you engaged in "criminal gang activity." Therefore, what is "criminal gang activity"?
"Criminal gang-related activity" means:
(a) An activity committed with the intent to benefit, promote, or further the interests of a criminal gang, or for the purposes of increasing a person's own standing or position within a criminal gang;
(b) An activity in which the participants are identified as criminal gang members or criminal gang associates acting individually or collectively to further any criminal purpose of a criminal gang;
(c) An activity that is identified as criminal gang activity by a documented reliable informant; or
(d) An activity that is identified as criminal gang activity by an informant of previously untested reliability and such identification is corroborated by independent information.
What Will Happen if You Are Documented As a "Criminal Gang Member" Who Has Engaged in "Criminal Gang Activity?"Read Florida Statute 874.04 which states the following:
Gang-related offenses; enhanced penalties. -- Upon a finding by the factfinder that the defendant committed the charged offense for the purpose of benefiting, promoting, or furthering the interests of a criminal gang, the penalty for any felony or misdemeanor, or any delinquent act or violation of law which would be a felony or misdemeanor if committed by an adult, may be enhanced as follows:
(1)(a) A misdemeanor of the second degree may be punished as if it were a misdemeanor of the first degree.
(b) A misdemeanor of the first degree may be punished as if it were a felony of the third degree.
(2)(a) A felony of the third degree may be punished as if it were a felony of the second degree.
(b) A felony of the second degree may be punished as if it were a felony of the first degree.
(c) A felony of the first degree may be punished as if it were a life felony.
If You Think That Step 1 through Step 5 Applies to You... hire yourself an experienced criminal trial attorney who has handled gang cases. In most situations, the State of Florida will be looking to send you to prison for a very long time!!