Disturbing the Public Peace | CA PC 403

California has seen its share of riots and assemblies, so it’s important for this state to have strong laws related to maintaining the public peace. While there are laws in relation to rioting and other mass disturbance issues, a person can be charged with disturbing the public peace for much less severe behaviors. The penalties in these cases can sometimes be intense, and this is especially true if additional charges are also brought. This is why it’s important to fully understand public disturbance statutes.

What is disturbing the Public Peace?

Disturbing the public peace is, defined under California state law, a misdemeanor. There are several ways in which a person may violate this crime. Anyone who engages in an unlawful fight in public, for instance, is guilty of disturbing the peace. In addition, even challenging a person to fight in public can lead to this charge.

In addition, anyone who willfully and maliciously disturbs another person with unreasonable and loud noise can be charged with disturbing the peace. Finally, even using offensive words while out in public can end in this serious charge. The prosecutor only has to show that these words could’ve likely caused an “immediate violent reaction.”

Bail Amounts for Disturbing the Public Peace

The penalties for violating public peace laws are set by the State and thus apply all over California, however the bail amounts can vary greatly depending on the location in which you are charged. For example, in San Diego County, the bail schedule lists disturbing the public peace as a bailable offense at $250. In San Luis Obispo County, on the other hand, bail amounts can range from $164 for infractions to $2,000 for misdemeanor public disturbance charges. Ventura County doesn’t even list the offense on their bail schedule, but the crime is bailable as a misdemeanor at $2,500.

A Bail Hotline agent can easily research this information for you and also post a bond for just a small fraction of the price you would have to cover on your own. The maximum agency fee allowed by California law is a mere 10% of the face bail amount.

Possible Penalties for a Conviction

Penalties related to disturbing the public peace can be severe, and this is especially true in certain circumstances. Simply for violating the law, without any additional charges, a person can face a $400 fine and up to three months in jail. Unfortunately, since fighting in public can obviously also lead to battery charges, these penalties can easily increase.

Additionally, depending on where the disturbance occurred, such as in a school or state university, the consequences of a conviction can increase if prior convictions have occurred. A person convicted of a second disturbance on these school properties, for instance, could face up to six months in jail.

Disturbing the public peace is a crime that is taken very seriously in the state of California. Even in the absence of any harm to person or property, an individual convicted of this crime can still face jail time and serious fines. Because of these potential penalties, it’s important for a person to secure their release as soon as possible, and then find an attorney who is willing to help. These two decisions may have long lasting impact on a person’s life. 

Battery | California PC 243

Violent crimes are punishable by severe penalties in the state of California. Unfortunately for many, even a simple charge of battery can lead to harsh consequences. Anyone charged with battery should recognize what they’re up against. Because of the relative harshness of the consequences related to the crime, an individual should try their best to fight a conviction. To do this, however, they must first understand the charge.

What is Battery?

California statutes related to battery are, considering the relative simplicity of the actual definition of the charge, highly complex. Battery is simply the unlawful and willful use of violence or any force against another person. Assault charges differ from battery in the fact that an assault is simply the attempt at performing a battery. Swinging at a person, for instance, is assault; swinging at a person and hitting them is battery.

Bail Amounts for Battery

Since the State of California doesn’t set bail amounts, the amount of money a person will have to pay to secure bail will vary greatly depending on where they’re arrested. Many people quickly learn how serious the charges against them are when they learn how high California counties set their bail amount for battery. It’s always advisable to contact a bail bond agency in these instances since they are the best source of pertinent information, and most rapid path to early release. With California bail fees set at a maximum of 10 percent of the face amount, it’s often a person’s only course of action to getting out of jail.

The crime of battery will result in a bail amount of $20,000 in San Luis Obispo County. In San Diego County, this amount is only $8,000. Depending on the circumstances of the battery, however, these amounts can go up substantially. If the victim was a peace officer, for instance, bail goes up to $25,000 in San Luis Obispo. Some counties do have somewhat lesser bail amounts, but as opposed to other types of charges they’re still high. Ventura County, for example, sets their bail amount at $10,000 for battery.

Penalties for a Battery Conviction

Much like the aforementioned bail amounts, penalties related to battery will greatly vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case. A battery conviction with no aggravating circumstances (such as being committed against a policeman) will result in fines of up to $2,000 and a jail term of up to six months. This is a misdemeanor charge, but a person who causes a serious bodily injury can face a felony charge that will result in up to four years in prison and a “strike.”

Additional penalties can also be levied against a person convicted of attacking a firefighter, animal control agent and numerous other public employees. In these cases, fines of up to $10,000 and four years in prison are not unheard of.

Battery charges are considered very serious in California, and because of this, those convicted of the crime can face harsh consequences. The most important thing to do after being arrested on these charges is to secure bail. Whether this entails paying out of pocket or using a bail bond agency, it should simply be done. This will allow an individual to quickly begin working on their defense, and this time can be invaluable when faced with a battery charge.

Child Abduction | California PC 278

There are a host of laws meant to protect children in California, but maybe some of the most important are child abduction laws. These laws are meant to protect parents and children of the State, and they can apply to anyone who takes a child while they’re not the custodial parent. Those charged with this crime face some very serious consequences. For this reason, it’s vital for anyone facing these charges to understand what they are up against.

What is Child Abduction?

Child abduction law, also known as child stealing, can be a very complex issue. At heart, however, it is the malicious taking or concealing of a child by a person who has no custodial rights over that child. The only people who have custodial rights are parents who have not had their rights revoked or restricted by the courts, and those who have received custodial orders.

Child stealing is different than kidnapping in the fact that the child doesn’t actually need to be transported anywhere for the offense to have been committed. Also important to note is the fact that the statute of limitations on this crime doesn’t actually start until one of the following takes place:

a)    the child is returned

b)    the parent consents to allowing the abductor to take the child

c)     the parent legally loses their rights to the child

d)    or the child turns 18; the statute of limitations is three years in this case.

Is Child Abduction a Bailable Offense?

There are very few crimes that will result in a person being remanded to custody rather than given bail. Luckily for those charged with this crime, child abduction is not one of them. It’s important to note, however, that bail can vary greatly depending on where in California a person is charged. Every county has its own bail schedule, and a call to your nearest Bail Hotline office will narrow down this information for you promptly.

In Los Angeles County, for example, the bail amount listed in the bail schedule is $25,000. In Santa Barbara, it is $40,000. If a person uses the Internet to abduct a child in Santa Barbara, this amount jumps to $100,000. In Ventura County, child abduction brings a set bail amount of $50,000.

It’s obvious that these amounts are more than most people can handle, but in California the bail bond agencies are only allowed to charge fees of 10 percent of a person’s bail to secure their release. That means in Los Angeles County, for instance, a person could garner their release for a fee of only $2,500 (10 percent of the $25,000 bail amount). It’s imperative for a person to quickly get out of jail so they can find a good lawyer, as they will definitely need one in this case.

Penalties for Child Abduction

As with many crimes in California, child abduction is known as a “wobbler.” This means that, at the prosecutor’s discretion, the crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The court will consider any mitigating (to make less severe) and aggravating (to make worse) factors when making this call.

If a person is charged with child abduction as a misdemeanor, they face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If, on the other hand, an individual is charged with a felony, the person could face up to four years in prison along with a $10,000 fine.
Some people may think that the aforementioned penalties are minor when considering the crime, but it’s important to recognize that these consequences are for child abduction alone. If any other crime occurs, such as the child being harmed due to reckless behavior or molestation, further charges and penalties may very well be forthcoming. 

Civil Rights Violations | California PC 422.6

There was a time in the United States where various individuals had no civil rights whatsoever. For the most part, those days have come and gone; but that doesn’t mean that some people’s rights aren’t still routinely trampled upon. Luckily, there are now laws in place to protect individuals of certain backgrounds from unfair discrimination. Someone who violates another person’s civil rights, or worse, commits a hate crime, can face serious consequences in the state of California.

What are Civil Rights Violations?

Civil rights violations, as defined by California, are violations against people that are committed based solely on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, gender or a disability. “Perceived” means that if a crime is committed against a person because it’s believed that they’re gay, black or another “protected status,” even if they aren’t, the person who committed it can still be charged with a crime.

Civil rights violations can actually stand as crimes in themselves. This means that no other statute must be violated other than restricting a person’s civil rights. For example, an employer who gives time off to white employees to go vote, but doesn’t do so for his African American employees, may have committed a civil rights crime.

It must be noted, though, that civil rights violation charges can be much more serious. If a person commits a misdemeanor or felony, other than the aforementioned restriction of civil rights, based on one of the previously mentioned protected statuses, they can be charged with a hate crime. This will constitute a misdemeanor unless the crime committed caused an injury, resulted in property damage of more than $950 or if the person accused was previously convicted of a hate crime.

Bail Associated with Civil Rights Violations

The bail fees that a person faces related to a civil rights violation will vary, based on whether or not the crime constituted a hate crime and where it occurred within the state. Interfering with someone’s civil rights, without violence for instance, constitutes a $10,000 bail amount in Los Angeles County. In the same county, however, a civil rights violation that is considered a hate crime will add an additional $25,000 to whatever bail amount was set for the underlying crime.

The $25,000 bail amount in Los Angeles is almost representative of California as a whole. For instance, Santa Barbara and Sonoma Counties have the same $25,000 bail amount. Luckily, a person doesn’t have to pay this whole amount to get out. A Bail Hotline agent can quickly ascertain the probable dollar figure from the jail’s bail schedule, and assist with your release for a small percentage of the set amount.
Penalties Associated with Civil Rights Violations

The standalone civil rights violation, with no other crime committed can result in one year in jail, fines reaching $5,000 plus 400 hours of community service. When a hate crime becomes a felony, due to one of the aforementioned instances (such as physical harm), the punishment can jump up to three years in prison and fines of $10,000.

If the underlying crime is already a felony, however, and also constitutes a hate crime, an additional sentence of up to three years can be tacked on to whatever punishment is handed down for the underlying crime.

Civil rights violations and hate crimes are taken very seriously in California. Anyone charged with these crimes will want to be released soon as possible and find a very good attorney. In most instances, due to the high bail fees, this makes it necessary to use a bail bond agency to quickly get out of jail. At that point, a person can begin working on their defense.


Bribery California | California PC 92

There are crimes that most people don’t even think of or fear unless they end up directly involved. Bribery isn’t something you can see or feel, but it can have devastating effects that can land either the defendant or their victim in jail for years.

The State of California doesn’t take this crime as lightly. Even though each specific county can enforce bail and carry out the sentence of someone charged with bribery, it is California that decides what constitutes the crime and the punishments that are required by law.

What is Bribery?

California Penal Codes 92 through 95 directly deal with bribery. Anyone who makes or receives any offer of advantage or value with the intent that the offer is made to unlawfully influence a person’s action, opinion or vote in any official or public capacity has committed bribery. This means a person is guilty of the crime whether they are the one making or receiving the offer. Even if the exchange of advantage or value doesn’t occur, the mere agreement to or offer of the bribe constitutes bribery.

The statutes refer to bribes made to public officials who include police chiefs, judges, police officers, senators, councilmen and several other people in trusted positions. Even in instances where an official doesn’t technically have authority over a specific decision, bribery can still occur if the official or person making the offer to the official believed that the officer was working within their official capacity and had the ability to influence a specific decision.

It is not necessary for a bribe to be accepted, in California law, for the crime to have occurred. If a person attempts to bribe a public official or, conversely if a public official requests a bribe and the other party refuses, the culpable party is still guilty of bribery and can be punished as if the ‘deal’ had actually gone through.

Bail Amounts

Each California county has the authority to set its own bail amounts. They do this via their bail schedule, which sets forth preset bail amounts for specific crimes. The bail schedule allows a person to get out of jail within a few hours, and by contacting your closest Bail Hotline, an experienced agent can post your bond for as little as 10% of the face amount.

Though these bail preset amounts usually vary between counties, they are strikingly similar when it comes to bribery. In Santa Clara, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles counties the crime of bribery involving councilmen, supervisors or other similar officials brings a $25,000 bail amount. Monterey County’s bail amount differs from these three, coming in at $20,000 dollars, and there are even a few types of bribery in this county for which bail may be as little as $10,000.

Penalties and Consequences

Bribery in instances that include marriages and appointments to certain lower offices are usually treated as misdemeanors – and thus only bring a maximum of one year in jail – but the greater majority of bribery crimes are considered felonies. In cases of felony bribery a person will face between two and four years in a state prison.

If a bribe didn’t change hands then a person will face a fine of two to ten thousand dollars. If the advantage or object of value actually did change hands, then the fine will be at least two thousand dollars and could go up to double the amount of the actual bribe. Public officials are also required to permanently relinquish their office.
Bribery is taken very seriously in California. The crime flies right in the face of the systems that are created to ensure fairness within society, and when people decide to violate these rules they are punished to the fullest extent of the law. There are some very legitimate defenses to a bribery charge, but usually only an experienced attorney can convince a judge or jury of these facts. 

Lotteries California | California PC 319

While not all crimes in California are considered especially serious offenses that require the possibility of prison time, all crimes are capable of landing you in jail. One crime that is considered serious, yet never worthy of being called a felony, is running a lottery. Individuals are not allowed to have lotteries within the state.

There are some exceptions to the rules, but California doesn’t define these exceptions as ‘lotteries.’ The important thing for anyone accused of this crime to do is to get a lawyer. An experienced attorney can explain to a judge that what the State thought was an illegal lottery was likely a perfectly legitimate raffle.

Law Related to Lotteries

California law defines a lottery as a scheme meant to dispose of, or distribute property or money by chance, between people who have provided some sort of payment or promise thereof in order to be considered for a chance of winning the said property. It is also deemed a lottery if ‘winners’ receive some portion of the aforementioned property. These games of chance can also be referred to as raffles and gift enterprises, but any event by another name that meets these criteria is still considered a lottery.

This law also applies to people who prepare, host, set up or even propose that such a lottery be held. Even aiding in the printing of lottery tickets can end with a person being arrested, and they can also be arrested for insuring or receiving insurance for these lotteries. Distributing tickets or setting up a location to hold such a lottery are also considered misdemeanors.

This law doesn’t make every type of raffle illegal, however. The State of California realizes that certain organizations (senior communities, non-profits, etc.) use raffles to fund necessary endeavors. The law usually requires that the majority of the profits earned from these raffles go to charitable means. These raffles, however, cannot just be held on a whim. The organization seeking to hold the event must obtain administrative approval and also register annually with the Justice Department.

Bail for Lottery Activities

Bail amounts vary for every crime in the State of California. This is because each county makes its own bail schedule, which presets specific bail amounts for a crime that has been committed. If you have been accused of any crime related to the aforementioned lotteries, simply contact your closest Bail Hotline office to help post your bail, for just 10% of the total face amount required. Few counties even mention lotteries in their bail schedule, as it is considered a very low cost bail; of course, a thousand dollars can be a really large amount when you don’t have it.

Santa Clara County is one of the few counties that do mention the crime, and it only sets bail at $1000. All other schedules have a table for crimes that aren’t listed in the schedule, based on the amount of jail time a person can receive. These tables usually end up assigning those accused of lottery offenses around the same amount of bail s Santa Clara.

Penalties and Consequences

Lotteries are definitely not considered too serious – mostly due to the fact that they’re not felonies. The commission of the crime can still bring some harsh consequences, especially considering the fact that an otherwise perfectly legal raffle can become illegal if the proper paperwork isn’t filed. Anyone convicted of any of the aforementioned activities is guilty of a misdemeanor. That said, these crimes can land a person in jail for up to a year. The proceedings from the lottery are also confiscated and become property of the State of California.

When looking at some of the serious crimes that occur in California, a person may think that holding a lottery isn’t that big of a deal. Unfortunately, this crime can still land a person in jail. Remember, the only difference between a legal raffle and an illegal lottery is paperwork. If a lawyer can convince a judge that the crime committed was simply an oversight, then a defendant will have a much better chance of escaping jail time.

Insurance Fraud California | California PC 548

Almost everyone has seen a movie where the owner of a certain establishment attempts to burn down their building in order to receive an insurance payout. What many people don’t realize, however, is that these types of things really do happen every day; and as such, are one of the most obvious types of insurance fraud.

California defines several instances that constitute insurance fraud and lays out the penalties that counties must abide by when enforcing sentences. Anyone accused of insurance fraud faces severe consequences, so it is in their best interest to secure a lawyer as soon as possible.

What Constitutes Insurance Fraud?

California PC 548-550 outlines the many definitions and rules regarding the possible charges of insurance fraud. The first mention of insurance fraud is when a person willfully damages or destroys some form of property that is insured, with the express purpose of gaining an insurance payoff. The law goes on to mention a long list of crimes that include falsely filing a claim, filing multiple claims for one event, participating in a car accident that was expressly planned for insurance fraud and knowingly preparing a false claim. The rules against filing and preparing fraudulent or multiple claims also apply to medical insurance coverage.

The law also states that it is illegal to withhold information from an insurance company that would affect a person’s eligibility. Making an oral or written statement that is false with the intent that it is to be reviewed by an insurance company is also an offense. It is also illegal for a company or partnership to refer, solicit or accept any business from an entity that the company knows has participated or intends to participate in any of the fraudulent insurance activities previously mentioned.

Bail Amounts

Insurance fraud is a bailable offense and is included in all California county bail schedules. These schedules can be used to secure a person’s release within a few hours of arrest. Some counties have bail amounts that are the same. Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties, for instance, both set bail for insurance fraud at twenty-five thousand dollars. If the amount of money stolen is higher than twenty-five thousand dollars, then the bail amount will be equivalent to the amount stolen. Santa Clara County, on the other hand, only sets its bail at ten thousand dollars. Bail across the state of California varies, so a quick call to your closest Bail Hotline office will assure you of the preset bail for your specific charges, as well as a near immediate release at just a fraction of the total bail amount.

Penalties and Consequences

The additional penalties related to insurance fraud can vary as much as the bail amounts between counties. A person who willfully destroys property for insurance gain, for instance, can face up to five years in prison and a fine of fifty thousand dollars. A person with a prior conviction, however, will face far more severe consequences; each prior conviction will bring a sentence enhancement of two years added to a person’s initial sentence.

A person who files or prepares a fraudulent insurance document, or participates in intentionally crashing a car for insurance purposes, also faces a five-year sentence and a fifty thousand dollar fine. Filing a false claim regarding health insurance, however, only brings the possibility of one year in jail.

Making false written or oral statements in an effort to defraud an insurance company is another instance that can bring five years in prison. Many of these crimes also involve other sentence enhancements of more than two years, if prior convictions exist. Even knowingly referring or accepting the business of a person that participates in insurance fraud can bring up to a year in county jail.

Insurance fraud is considered a very serious offense in the State of California. In most instances it is treated as a felony and punishable by excessive fines and at least half a decade in state prison. Even though insurance fraud is not a violent crime, it will land a person in prison with hundreds of violent offenders. Anyone accused of insurance fraud definitely will want an experienced lawyer on their side. 

Malicious Mischief California | California PC 594

There are few statutes within the California penal code that cover as wide a range of illegal activities as those of malicious mischief. This crime, sometimes referred to as vandalism, is considered quite serious in the State of California, and the repercussions are always severe.

The State of California sets forth the gamut of rules and sentencing procedures for those convicted of malicious mischief, while each individual county is responsible for enforcing the law and applying bail. The penalties related to vandalism are stiff enough that anyone accused of the crime should seek bail and immediate legal counsel.

What Constitutes Vandalism?

The laws regarding vandalism take up several penal codes, running from 594 through 625. Though the law includes several instances of mischief, the overlying definition of the term is maliciously destroying, damaging or defacing another’s personal or real property. This includes property of individuals, the public and the government. The statutes also make it illegal to provide materials commonly used for vandalism to underage citizens without the proper supervision of their guardians.

The malicious mischief laws also make it a crime to own any method of defacement with the intent of defacing property. These instruments include spray paint, glasscutters, markers and glass drill bits, just to name a few. The law goes on further to mention specific instances that constitute mischief including: spray painting objects, tampering with aircraft, maiming objects of archaeological significance and tampering with lighting systems meant to guide waterway vessels. Obviously meant to be all-pervasive, the list goes on and on.

Bailing Out of Jail

Due to the complex and all-inclusive nature of malicious mischief laws, the bail differences between activities mentioned in the statutes vary widely. Each California County has specific preset bail amounts listed in their bail schedule. Defendants can reach out to an experienced and empathetic bail agent at Bail Hotline to arrange their release within hours of arrest, at a fraction of the face preset bail amount.

The particulars of each mischief case will influence whether or not a crime is a felony or misdemeanor. A misdemeanor vandalism charge in Santa Clara County only has a bail amount of one thousand dollars, while a felony charge of the same crime will demand a bail of $10,000. Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties specifically mention vandalizing a church or cemetery, and set those bail amounts at fifty thousand dollars. Other bail amounts relating to mischief run the gamut of everything in between, depending on the circumstance and county in which the crime took place.

Penalties and Consequences

The penalties related to malicious mischief are also wide ranging. Minors who commit small acts of vandalism (such as neighborhood graffiti) can usually face jail time, but they are often released into the custody of their guardians with a fine and community service. This community service often includes cleaning the graffiti they created and keeping a certain area free of graffiti for a specific amount of time.

Other crimes bring more serious penalties. Committing vandalism on a church or cemetery as a hate crime is considered a felony, and is punishable by up to four years in state prison. Even misdemeanors can bring serious consequences, however, and can end with fines over $10,000, depending on the value of property damaged. Most acts of vandalism are considered misdemeanors and are only punishable by up to a year in jail. Mischief that includes damaging transit vehicles with the intent to cause harm, however, will lead to a felony charge and up to four years in prison.

Malicious mischief has become such a huge problem in California that it is mentioned over a span of twenty statutes. If a person is convicted of any of these crimes, the state has the right to take away their freedom for at least a year of their life. This seems excessive to many people, considering the fact the vandalism may have only been markings on a wall. But someone accused of any of these crimes will need a good lawyer to prevent serious fines and jail time, especially if they have a prior conviction. 

Kidnapping California | California PC 207

There are not many crimes that are considered as vile and detrimental to society as kidnapping. California law is very specific on what constitutes kidnapping and explains numerous types of kidnapping that can bring significantly different penalties. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding a kidnapping, the penalties are always extremely severe.

What Constitutes Kidnapping?

The basic definition of kidnapping in California is using fear in order to take, arrest, steal or detain another person and move them to another part of the county, state, country or even world. The law goes on to explain several forms of kidnapping, that include enticing a child under fourteen to go with the accused, enticing a person to come with the accused with the intent of selling them into human slavery, or kidnapping a person with the intent to demand ransom or commit spousal rape.

Another instance of kidnapping is defined as taking an unwilling person during the commission of carjacking. The law even goes on to state that while it may not be considered kidnapping, demanding ransom while pretending to be a kidnapper is also a crime and is punishable by severe penalties itself.

Bail Amounts

Bail schedules are provided in each county and they list a preset bail amount that for which a person may be released by paying. Contact the Bail Hotline office in your county, where an agent can quickly determine the bail required for your release.  The preset bail amounts are going to be very high for this charge, so the 10% fee for posting your bond will be a welcome relief, while securing your freedom will allow you to begin building a proper defense by the assigned court date.

Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties set a defendant’s bail at one million dollars if they kidnap a person to commit a felonious sexual offense. Los Angeles County even sets a one million dollar bail amount for kidnapping a person in relation to a carjacking. The bail amounts will vary from county to county, depending on the circumstances of a kidnapping, but the bail amount will always be extremely high for this charge.

Penalties and Consequences

The penalties related to a kidnapping conviction are especially severe. A person convicted of any type of kidnapping faces at least three to eight years in prison. If a child was under fourteen when they were kidnapped, the convicted faces five to eleven years. Anyone who kidnaps a person and then attempts extortion or asks for ransom is treated even more severely and faces a sentence of life in prison. A person who kidnaps another during a carjacking or with the intent to commit rape, sodomy, spousal rape, robbery or several other serious crimes will also face life imprisonment.

Most of these penalties allow for the possibility of parole, except in cases where a person was held in an environment that caused or could have caused great bodily injury or death. Demanding ransom while pretending to be a kidnapper, even with no involvement in the actual kidnapping, will still bring a penalty of two to four years.

Kidnapping is an especially serious offense in California and the United States in general. The crime can sometimes lead to probation, if the judge has a good reason to allow such a light sentence, but this is not a common practice in any sense of the word. Anyone charged with kidnapping will need an experienced lawyer to ensure that they don’t spend much of the rest of their life behind bars.

Street Terrorism California | California PC 186.20

California has had pretty severe issues with street gang activity throughout the past few decades. This serious problem led the state legislature to pass the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act. This legislation not only makes street gang activity illegal, it also introduces serious sentence enhancements for even aiding in the commission of crimes committed by street gangs.

While counties are still allowed to set their own bail amounts related to this activity, the State of California provides the sentences that must be handed out in relation to the crime. The penalties associated with street gang activity are so severe that a good attorney should be sought out as quickly as possible. Contact the nearest Bail Hotline office to discuss posting a bond for your release, at only a fraction of the face bail amount.

What the Law Says

California Penal Code 186 defines exactly what constitutes illegal gang activity, as well as the corresponding penalties. The first part of this law makes it a crime to knowingly participate in a street gang. It goes on to state that if you actively participate in a gang that you know engages in criminal activity and promotes, assists or furthers any felonious activity of that gang, you are guilty of a crime. This crime can be considered a felony or misdemeanor, and it makes the mere act of being in a gang illegal.

The law also sets forth sentencing enhancements for people who commit felonies that are associated with criminal gangs. This means that if a gang directed a person to commit a felony, the defendant will face a sentence enhancement. A sentence enhancement will also be attached if the crime was done to benefit, promote, assist or was in association with illegal gang activity. These enhancements apply even if a person isn’t an active member of the gang.

Serious Bail Amounts

The individual counties of California set forth their own bail amounts for these crimes, and they vary widely. Santa Clara County sets bail for a serious felony related to street gangs at twenty-five thousand dollars. Los Angeles County sets it a bit higher, at forty thousand dollars. Santa Barbara County takes the crime even more seriously; they set the bail amount for any felony benefiting a gang at $100,000.

Penalties and Consequences

The penalties associated with being in a street gang, or committing a felony for their benefit, can also be quite variable. A person convicted of simply being a part of a criminal street gang can face a misdemeanor that will bring one year in jail, or a felony that will lead to between sixteen months and three years in prison.

The enhancements related to gang activity are even more serious. Committing a felony related to a criminal gang that isn’t considered a serious or violent felony will bring a sentence enhancement of two to four years. Committing a crime that is considered a serious felony will fetch an enhancement of five years. Serious felonies include, but aren’t limited to, making criminal threats, shooting at an occupied home or car and assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer.

Violent felonies bring an even greater enhancement. Some crimes are considered violent and serious, and in these cases the more severe enhancement is usually given. The commission of a violent felony related to gang activity brings a sentence enhancement of ten years. All of these enhancements have to be served in addition and consecutively to the penalty related to the underlying felony.

A few specific felonies can bring even greater sentencing enhancements. Home invasion robbery, carjacking and committing drive-by shootings could all subject a person to life imprisonment. Also, if any felony was committed within one thousand feet of a school zone, the accused faces an aggravating factor that could make their sentence extremely harsh.

Criminal street gang activity is taken very serious in California. The law actually specifies that 328 gang-related murders occurred in 1986 and that this statistic was rising. These laws are meant to protect the public safety, but unfortunately, they sometimes affect people who have no relation whatsoever to criminal gangs. If a person is charged with any serious crime, especially if the prosecutor is adding street gang enhancements, it is important for them to contact a lawyer immediately.