In Focus: Gang Related Drug Charges
Drug charges are serious enough in their own right, but they can become even more serious if you are facing drug charges in regards to gang activity. Sometimes good people are pressured or forced into making a bad choice because of a gang, which is why it is crucial to have proper legal representation.
What is a “gang”?
Under Florida law, a “criminal gang” is defined as:
“a formal or informal ongoing organization, association, or group that has as one of its primary activities the commission of criminal or delinquent acts, and that consists of three or more persons who have a common name or common identifying signs, colors, or symbols, including, but not limited to, terrorist organizations and hate groups.”
This definition applies to both “formal” and “informal” groups, and it has become increasingly common for people to be “affiliated” with a gang even though they have not formally joined or been subjected to any sort of initiation ritual.
The simple fact is that in many cities gangs control certain areas, and that whether you like it or not, for safety, protection, or other reasons, you may be “affiliated” with that gang by virtue of living or working in their turf or having friends that join. This can have profound consequences when you consider some of the many ways Florida says someone can be a “criminal gang member”:
3) … a person who meets two or more of the following criteria:…
(d) Adopts the style of dress of a criminal gang…
(e) Adopts the use of a hand sign identified as used by a criminal gang…
(f) Has a tattoo identified as used by a criminal gang…
(g) Associates with one or more known criminal gang members…
(j) Has been observed in the company of one or more known criminal gang members four or more times….
In other words, under Florida law you can considered to be a criminal gang member if you dress like one, have a tattoo, or even hang out with other gang members from time to time. Depending on the circumstances, those who have been charged with gang-related drug crimes may also be prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute, which is typically used in cases of organized crime. Criminal RICO penalties can include 20 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine.
Why This Matters
At Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, we know that good people sometimes make bad choices, but that sometimes you don’t have a choice to be affiliated with a gang. We believe you should not face life-altering consequences as a result of knowing someone in a gang in which you aren’t a member. If you are facing gang-related drug charges, our experienced Miami criminal defense attorneys will defend you in court by presenting evidence that you are not in a gang or distributing drugs.
Posted in: Criminal, Drug Crimes