How Does Virginia Define & Punish Criminal Street Gangs?
Virginia law makes it a felony crime to participate in a criminal street gang. A criminal street gang, to be defined as such, must meet a multifaceted system of requirements. Not all criminal associations meet the Virginia legal standard for a criminal street gang.
How Does Virginia Define a Criminal Street Gang?
The state definition of a criminal street gang appears under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-46.2. This section defines a criminal street gang as an ongoing organization of at least three members which:
- Demonstrates a primary objective of committing criminal activities;
- Features an identifiable name or identifying sign or symbol; and
- Engages in the commission or attempted commission of multiple acts of violence or predicate criminal acts.
How Does Virginia Define a Predicate Criminal Act?
The state definition of a predicate criminal act also appears under Section 18.2-46.1. There are various unlawful activities that qualify as predicate criminal acts, including, but not limited to:
- Any act of violence;
- Capital murder;
- Assault and battery;
- Assault or battery by mob;
- Malicious wounding;
- Aggravated malicious wounding;
- Reckless endangerment;
- Use or display of a firearm while committing a felony;
- Reckless handling of firearms;
- Domestic battery;
- Grand larceny;
- Receipt of stolen firearms;
- Damaging public buildings;
- Drug trafficking;
- Drug manufacturing, distribution, sale, or gift;
- Drug possession with intent to manufacture, sell, give, or distribute;
- Human trafficking;
- Commercial sex trafficking;
- Receiving earnings from sex trafficking; and
- Many other criminal offenses.
What are the Virginia Laws Against Criminal Street Gangs?
The state laws against criminal street gangs appear under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-46.2. This section makes it unlawful for any person to:
- Actively participate or be a member of any criminal street gang; and
- Knowingly and willfully contribute to any predicate criminal act in connection with any criminal street gang.
What is the Virginia Penalty for Criminal Street Gangs?
The state penalty for participating in criminal street gangs also appears under Section 18.2-46.2. Participation in a criminal street gang is normally charged as a Class 5 felony. Upon conviction for these charges, the penalty can include a prison sentence between one and 10 years, as well as criminal fines up to $2,500.
There is also a separate penalty for criminal street gang members who engage the assistance of minor children under 18 years old. This type of offense is charged as a Class 4 felony. Upon conviction for these charges, the penalty can include a prison sentence between two and 10 years, as well as criminal fines up to $100,000.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about criminal street gangs or other criminal offenses in Virginia, contact the Leesburg criminal lawyers at Simms Showers LLP. We can assist you throughout each step of your case.