Defending Individuals Charged With Gang Crimes
Have you ever heard the saying “you are the company you keep?” This idea can have serious consequences when it comes to gang crime accusations. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time or having connections to someone who is involved in illegal activities can lead to federal gang crime accusations.
Since 2014, Michigan has seen an uptick in gang charges brought under federal law. For this reason, it is more important than ever to work with an experienced federal gang and violent crime attorney to help you avoid severe penalties. At the Law Office of John Freeman, we represent individuals who find themselves wrapped up in criminal charges connected to gang association. Our experienced metro Detroit criminal defense attorney will work with you to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the criminal process and help you reach the best outcome possible in court.
How Does Michigan Law Define Gangs?
Violent crime charges carry varying degrees of penalties such as fines and prison time, but Michigan’s gang laws impose additional penalties if the crimes were committed on behalf of a gang. The legal criteria for gangs are as follows:
- A group of 5 or more persons organized for the purpose of committing crimes
- Shared characteristics, which could include symbols, geographical area, sign, or other membership protocol
- Defined command structure
- Membership criteria
Because the legal definition is so broad, gang charges may be brought against a wide variety of groups. Any group that meets the above criteria, from rebellious teenagers to experienced criminals, may find themselves facing state or federal gang charges if accused of a crime in connection with a gang.
Gang Charges Brought Under Federal Law (RICO)
Since the early 1990s, federal prosecutors have increasingly used racketeering laws to go after members of traditional organized crime families. In recent years, however, they have begun applying these same laws to target street gangs and other groups involved in violent crime. The vast majority of gang-related charges are brought under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
RICO was originally passed in 1970 to target the Mafia, but it can be applied to any group of 5 or more individuals engaged in criminal activity. To convict someone under RICO, prosecutors must prove that the defendant was part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. They must also show that the defendant committed at least two “predicate crimes” as part of that enterprise.
Predicate crimes include a wide range
o f offenses, from murder and kidnapping to drug trafficking and robbery. Importantly, convicted gang members can be sentenced to longer prison terms than those imposed for the underlying predicate crimes. For example, a person convicted of racketeering in federal court can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison, even if the underlying predicate crimes would only carry a maximum sentence of 10 years each.
What Charges Are Prosecuted Under Federal Gang Law?
There are many different types of federal gang and violent crime charges, each with its own set of penalties. The Law Office of John Freeman represents clients who have been charged with gang-related crimes including:
- Firearms Offenses
- Drug Offenses
- Money Laundering
If you have been charged with any of the above crimes under RICO or state gang crime laws, our skilled gang/violent crime attorney can help you avoid prison time, fines, and a gang crime entry on your criminal record.
Contact An Experienced Detroit Gang And Violent Crimes Attorney
When facing federal gang charges for crimes you did not commit, it may feel like getting swept up in a gang conviction is inevitable. This is not the case. With the help of an experienced federal crimes attorney, we can help you avoid “guilt by association” and achieve a positive outcome in court.
If you have been accused of a federal gang or violent crime charge, contact our experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of John Freeman today online or call us at 248-865-8454 for a free consultation. In an emergency, call us at 313-330-2653 at any time of day.
From our offices in Troy, we represent clients in all federal and state courts in the greater Detroit area, throughout Michigan, and the United States.