White-Collar Crime – Criminal Street Gangs

According to federal law, a criminal street gang is “an ongoing group, club, organization, or association of five or more persons” that participate in crimes related to controlled substances, violence, illegal sexual activity or sex trafficking, or conspiracy to commit any of these offenses. Gang members have participated in the above crimes in a serial manner within the past five years.

You may be wondering, “Can you be arrested for being in a gang?” This depends on the circumstances. An organization qualifies as a criminal street gang if one of its primary purposes is to commit criminal offenses. Gang-related crimes in the U.S. include:

  • A federal felony related to a controlled substance
  • A federal felony involving the “use or attempted use of physical force against the person of another”
  • A federal offense related to human trafficking, sexual abuse or exploitation, the transportation of people for prostitution, and other illegal sexual activity
  • Conspiracy to commit any of the offenses detailed above is also considered a gang-related crime

Can You Be Arrested for Being in a Gang?

Being a gang member is not a crime in itself, but you will be charged for the crimes and prosecuted if you commit crimes as a gang member. Since criminal activity is a central aspect of being in a gang, the chances are good that you’ve broken the law.

As a gang member, your gang involvement will enhance the penalty for any crime you commit. You can be charged with a gang-related crime if the prosecution can prove any of the following:

  • You knew the members were engaged in a series of offenses
  • You intended to maintain or improve your standing within the gang
  • You meant to commit more crimes on behalf of the gang

However, being arrested for being in a gang does not necessarily mean you will be sentenced to jail time. Your punishment depends on your activities as part of the gang, your age, and if you have any past criminal offenses on your record. In some cases, you will be able to make a plea for rehabilitation time instead of imprisonment.

Why is Gang Activity a White Collar Crime?

White-collar crime is typically defined as a non-violent crime, often involving finance. These crimes are usually committed by “white collar” workers such as businesspeople or officials who work in the public sphere. White-collar crimes include embezzlement, bribery, cybercrime, identity theft, money laundering, and insider stock trading.

On the other hand, organized crime includes both violent and non-violent crimes committed by an organized group of people. Organized crimes include drug dealing, robbery, trafficking, and smuggling people for prostitution. On the surface, it seems like gang-related crimes are more similar to organized crime. Why, then, is gang activity considered a white-collar crime?

The FBI noticed in 2011 that gang members are committing more white-collar crimes, which are more lucrative and more challenging to trace. In the 2011 National Gang Assessment, the FBI pointed out that: 

“Gangs are becoming more violent while engaging in less typical and lower-risk crime, such as prostitution and white-collar crime. Gangs are more adaptable, organized, sophisticated, and opportunistic, exploiting new and advanced technology as a means to recruit, communicate discreetly, target their rivals, and perpetuate their criminal activity.”

While street gangs still commit violent crimes, the number of gang members who commit white-collar crimes has increased. 

Crimes committed by gang members affect commerce on an interstate or foreign level and are considered Federal crimes. If you are convicted of a gang-related crime, your sentence will be increased by up to ten years for gang involvement. This means that you will serve time for the criminal activity on its face, plus extra years for the crime being gang-related.

A Federal felony related to a controlled substance is punishable by no less than five years. Your sentence will be increased depending on your gang involvement.

Federal crimes involving violence against the person of another, human trafficking, illegal sexual activity, or conspiracy to commit any of these offenses are also punished with increased sentences if the crimes are gang-related. 

How A Lawyer Can Help You

You don’t need to be familiar with the ins and outs of federal law to know that you need a good criminal defense gang lawyer. If you are facing gang-related crime charges, a Zoukis Consulting Group lawyer offers your best defense. Our lawyers may be able to keep you out of prison, depending on the circumstances of your offense.

If you’re worried about spending time in prison for gang-related charges, Zoukis Consulting Group also has federal prison consultants who can help. Our consultants are familiar with every step of the incarceration process. They can answer any questions or concerns you have about criminal defense, prison preparation, in-prison matters, and reentry into society.

Get the help you need. Schedule an appointment with Zoukis Consulting Group now.