Criminal Lawyer Discusses the Crime of Murder With a Gang Enhancement

The crime of murder can be enhanced to require the death penalty when it includes the special circumstance of gang violence. This special circumstance was added by CA voters as part of Proposition 21, effective March 8, 2000. Its elements are spelled out in Penal Code §190.2(a)(22), as follows:

1. The defendant intentionally killed the victim. Shooting with intent to kill one person but killing the victim instead is an intentional killing within Pen C §190.2(a)(22).

2. The defendant was an active participant in a criminal street gang at the time of the killing.

3. The murder was carried out to further the activities of the criminal street gang.  It should be noted that an active participant is one whose involvement is more than nominal or passive, according to court decisions, an active participation requires knowledge of and an intent to further the goals of the gang.

Lastly, criminal Courts have warned that in all capital cases “courts must exercise caution in admitting evidence that a defendant is a member of a gang because such evidence may be highly inflammatory and may cause the jury to ‘jump to conclusion’ that the defendant deserves the death penalty.  These types of offenses are extremely complex and a lawyer should be consulted to discuss the specific facts and circunmstances relative to the case.

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