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Gang Crimes

Liberators Criminal Defense: Gang-Related Crimes in Nevada

Overview of Gang-Related Crimes in Nevada

In the state of Nevada, criminal activities committed in alignment with, or to further the interests of, a criminal or street gang are termed gang-related crimes. The state takes a stringent view of such offenses, primarily due to their detrimental impact on public safety and the broader community. 

Understanding NRS 193.168: Felony Committed to Promote Activities of a Criminal Gang

Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 193.168 provides detailed information about additional penalties that can be levied against individuals who commit felonies with the intent of promoting the activities of a criminal gang. Below is a breakdown of this statute:

1. Additional Penalties for Gang-related Felonies

Anyone convicted of a felony committed knowingly for the benefit of a criminal gang shall receive an additional prison sentence of 1 to 20 years on top of the original felony's prescribed sentence. The length of this additional penalty depends on several factors:

  • Facts and circumstances of the crime.
  • The convict's criminal history.
  • The crime's impact on any victim.
  • Any mitigating factors presented by the person.
  • Any other relevant information.

The court must explicitly state that it has considered the above factors while determining the additional penalty.

2. Limitations of the Additional Sentence

  • The additional penalty should not exceed the original sentence for the crime.
  • This additional sentence must run consecutively with the primary crime's sentence.

3. Definition of the Additional Penalty

This section doesn't introduce a separate crime. Instead, it provides an added penalty for the main crime, contingent on specific findings.

4. Conditions for Imposing the Additional Penalty

For an added penalty to be imposed:

  • The indictment must allege that the crime was committed for the benefit of a gang with a clear intent to promote gang activities.
  • The jury or judge must find this allegation true beyond reasonable doubt.

5. Exemptions

If the primary crime is a violation of NRS 201.570, no additional penalty will be imposed.

6. Probation and Sentence Suspension Limitations

For those convicted under this statute, probation or suspension of the sentence is typically not granted. However, the court can reduce or suspend the primary offense's sentence if the defendant significantly assists in arresting or convicting others involved in gang-related felonies.

7. Use of Expert Testimony

During proceedings, expert testimony can be used to demonstrate behaviors, practices, and customs associated with criminal gangs. This includes:

  • Characteristics of gang members.
  • Gang rivalries.
  • Gang practices and behaviors.
  • Social customs of gang members.
  • Gang-related terminology.
  • Gang codes of conduct.
  • Types of crimes commonly committed by gangs.

8. Definition of a "Criminal Gang"

A "criminal gang" refers to any organized group of persons (formally or informally structured) that:

  • Has a common name or identifying symbol.
  • Exhibits specific conduct, status, and customs.
  • Commonly engages in felony-level criminal activity, excluding the primary offense under consideration.

NRS 193.168 is comprehensive in detailing the additional penalties for gang-related crimes and the circumstances under which they can be applied. If you or someone you know is facing charges that might be affected by this statute, it is vital to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands Nevada's gang-related crime laws.

Types of Gang-Related Crimes Under Nevada Law

Gang-related crimes can manifest in multiple ways:

  1. Gang Participation: Involvement or association with a gang, with the intent to push its criminal ambitions.
  2. Gang Recruitment: Luring individuals into the fold of a criminal or street gang.
  3. Gang-Related Assault/Battery: Engaging in assault or battery to further or assist the objectives of a criminal gang.
  4. Gang-Related Drug Offenses: Participating in drug offenses, such as trafficking or distribution, under the gang's umbrella.
  5. Gang-Related Weapons Offenses: Possession or use of weapons in direct correlation with gang activities or for the gang's benefit.

Strategies to Combat Gang-Related Crime Charges

Successfully countering gang-related crime allegations demands a holistic defense strategy, best formulated with the aid of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Potential defense strategies encompass:

  1. Disputing Gang Association: Refute evidence or claims of your gang involvement. Utilize evidence like witness testimonies, video footage, or alibi evidence.
  2. Highlighting Insufficient Evidence: Analyze the prosecution's evidence for potential gaps or inconsistencies, which might include witness narratives, police documentation, or gang-associated items.
  3. Addressing False Accusations: Make a case for being wrongly accused, leveraging supporting evidence like witnesses, videos, or alibi proofs.
  4. Exposing Unlawful Police Practices: Examine the investigation and arrest phases for possible constitutional rights violations, such as improper searches or coercive tactics. If such infringements are detected, they can be instrumental in the defense strategy.

Penalties and Enhanced Penalties for Gang-Related Crimes

Nevada's penalties for gang-related offenses can range based on the nature of the crime, past criminal records, and other exacerbating factors. Given the seriousness attributed to these crimes, punishments can be stringent. Typical penalties include:

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Compulsory gang-intervention programs
  • Community service

The gravity of these punishments hinges on various determinants, such as the crime's nature, the defendant's association level with the gang, resultant harm to others, and any previous criminal activities.

Gang Enhancements: Nevada law incorporates 'gang enhancement' provisions, which serve to intensify penalties for gang-related crimes. This means that individuals found guilty of such offenses can be subjected to extended prison terms and more stringent repercussions.

Are Double Enhancements Permitted?

In Nevada, the courts are restricted from imposing a criminal gang enhancement in cases where the defendant has already been sentenced to additional (enhanced) prison time for specific offenses. These offenses include:

  1. Committing a felony at a school (as per NRS 193.161).
  2. Committing a felony with the aid of a child (NRS 193.162).
  3. Committing a felony using a handgun loaded with metal-penetrating bullets (NRS 193.163).
  4. Engaging in a felony using a deadly weapon or tear gas (NRS 193.165).
  5. Committing a felony in violation of a protective order (NRS 193.166).
  6. Committing a felony against individuals aged sixty or older, or against vulnerable individuals like the disabled (NRS 193.167).
  7. Committing a felony recognized as a hate crime (NRS 193.1675).
  8. Engaging in a felony act of terrorism (NRS 193.1685).
  9. Neglecting to seek medical help for someone harmed or killed by controlled substances (NRS 453.3335).
  10. Engaging in the selling, dispensing, or manufacturing of controlled substances near designated zones like schools, parks, or recreational facilities for minors (NRS 453.3345).
  11. Creating, selling, or trafficking methamphetamine in situations risking death or substantial bodily harm, or within specific proximities to residences, places of worship, educational institutions, or recreational areas (NRS 453.3351).
  12. Producing, selling, or trafficking controlled substances (excluding marijuana) leading to death or severe harm to another (NRS 453.3353.4).

Furthermore, it's crucial to note that Nevada law explicitly prohibits judges from adding an enhancement if you're convicted of gang recruitment under NRS 201.570.5.

Federal Implications and the RICO Act

Worth noting is that gang-related offenses, particularly those with extensive networks or operations, might be prosecuted at the federal level rather than state. Federal authorities frequently leverage the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) or conspiracy charges, which can impose even more severe penalties than state laws. Such federal charges underscore the critical importance of securing expert legal representation when faced with gang-related allegations.

Confronting charges related to gang activities in Nevada is a serious affair. With the potential for substantial penalties, enhanced consequences, and even federal prosecution, having a specialized criminal defense attorney is essential for navigating the complexities of such cases.

Contact us today so we can plan your defense. 

Act Now to Protect Your Rights

The criminal justice system can be harsh and unforgiving. Expertise and attention to detail are essential. Liberators Criminal Defense is here to use those skills to achieve justice, fairness, and a winning result in your case.