Gangs began taking root more than 40 years ago in the U.S., mostly popping up in major cities along the east and west coast. Over the past 20 years, the sheer number of gangs and the amount of people involved has increased dramatically. As a result of acts of vandalism, theft, intimidation, and other violent crimes members often engage in, gangs are blamed for destroying the moral fabric of neighborhoods and terrorizing townspeople. In New Jersey, dealing with gang members is a common problem for police and juvenile offenders are a frequent target for this activity. Teens and gang members of all ages face a crackdown in terms of the number of arrests and the increasingly severe criminal penalties in which these charges can result.
According to the National Gang Center, there are currently more than 30,000 gangs spread throughout the country. Combined, these represent more than 850,000 individual members. While gangs previously were found mostly in larger cities, they have begun springing up in smaller towns and suburban areas, particularly in New Jersey. Gangs can be involved in a variety of different types of crime. Among the most common and potentially serious include:
● Criminal mischief, hacking, and vandalism of property;
● Harassment, intimidation, and extortion;
● Theft and robbery;
● Assault and battery;
● Sexual harrassment, assault, and rape;
● Drug manufacturing, possession, distribution;
● Human trafficking;
● Attempted homicide and murder.
While these often involve older gang members, it is not uncommon for young people to be swept up in gang activity. They may feel pressured to engage in crimes as a way of fitting in or as part of an initiation rite with a particular group. The State of New Jersey takes a tough stance on any kind of gang-related crime and a conviction carries heavy penalties. In addition to heavy fines and an increased jail sentence, gang involvement is considered an organized crime. As a result, those charged can face seizure of their assets or property, as well as potential federal charges.
What Constitutes a Gang in New Jersey?
Young people have always had a tendency to form themselves into smaller social groups or ‘cliques.’ Together, they often end up getting into more mischief than they would individually. Juveniles do not have to be a part of a large or well-organized street gang to face criminal gang charges. Under Section 2C: 33-29 of the New Jersey Statutes, a criminal street gang is defined as any three or more people associated as street gang members based on two or more of the following seven criteria:
● Self-proclamation that they are a gang;
● Witness testimony or official statements;
● Written or electronic communications;
● Ownership of gang related paraphernalia or photographs;
● Tattoos or other bodily marks;
● Clothing or the wearing of certain colors;
● Any other sign that is indicative of gang membership or activity.
Street gang affiliation is assumed if you were previously engaged in organized crime or any type of gang activity over the past five years. Even if you were not convicted in the matter, you arrest records could be used against you on your current charges. Our Middlesex Criminal Defense Attorneys Provide Aggressive Representation Gang-related criminal charges could result in up to a 30-year jail sentence, in addition to the penalties for the other charges you face. With your freedom on the line, get the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. on your side. We are dedicated to fighting for your rights, providing the trusted guidance and aggressive legal representation you need. Call or contact our Milltown
criminal defense attorneys online and request a consultation right away.