When authorities charge you with a crime in California, many different factors determine your sentence or penalties. Whether your crime was a misdemeanor or a felony is one such consideration. Whether you have any affiliations with known gangs is another.
Per the California Legislature, the state has a California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act in place dictating that you may face harsher criminal penalties as a known gang member.
Understanding what constitutes a street gang
You may be part of a street gang in the eyes of the law if you are part of an ongoing organization that has three or members who share a common name, identifier or symbol. Furthermore, the members of the organization in question must engage in criminal activity and the specific crime for which you face a criminal charge.
Understanding the STEP Act
Under the STEP Act, you may face additional penalties for crimes the state believes you committed as a result of your gang affiliation. More specifically, say you face a felony charge that typically carries steep fines and six months in jail. In addition to those penalties, you may also face another sentence of up to a year behind bars in county jail, or somewhere between about 16 months and three years in state prison, if the state believes you have gang affiliations. Depending on the seriousness of the felony offense, you may face even harsher jail or prison sentences under the STEP Act.
Every criminal charge is different, so the STEP Act penalties one party may face after a particular offense may differ from those you personally face.