Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
Gang Crimes in Colorado -- 3 Things to Know [2022 UPDATES IN DESCRIPTION]
Colorado law does not enhance criminal sentences for gang-related crimes. However, the criminal nature of gangs makes members vulnerable to racketeering and other charges. Using a dangerous weapon during crimes of violence will enhance criminal sentences by five years. And when defendants are being sentenced, the court may consider relevant evidence of their past or present gang affiliations.
There is no gang enhancement for Colorado criminal sentences.
1. What are gangs?
Colorado criminal street gangs are ongoing organizations of three-plus people whose intent is to commit serious crimes, and they engage in a “pattern of criminal gang activity.” A pattern of criminal gang activity means:
[T]he commission, attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of two or more predicate criminal acts which are committed on separate occasions or by two or more persons.
These predicate criminal acts consist of either:
any conduct defined as racketeering activity in CRS 18-17-103 (5); and/or
retaliation against a witness or crime victim in violation of CRS 18-8-706.1
2. Are gang crimes penalized more harshly in Colorado?
There is no statutory sentencing enhancement for Colorado crimes committed in pursuit of gang-related activities. Therefore, gang members and non-gang members face the same sentencing range under state law for committing the same criminal offense.
However, a defendant’s gang affiliation can come in as evidence during a sentencing hearing if it is related to the nature of the offense and the defendant’s character.
Example: As part of his youth gang initiation, Maurice robs a pedestrian at gunpoint. Maurice is convicted of robbery. During his sentencing hearing, the judge admits evidence of Maurice’s gang involvement because it “sheds light on his tendency toward aggression, rage, and assaultive behavior.” And this evidence may influence the judge’s sentencing decision.
In short, a defendant’s gang membership cannot be the main reason why a judge imposes a particular sentence. But it can be a factor as long as it is relevant to the case and the defendant’s character.2
3. What are common gang crimes and their penalties?
Also note that committing a crime of violence with a dangerous or deadly weapon – such as a gun or knife – adds a five-year sentence enhancement to the prison term.3
4. How do you defend against gang crimes?
The best defenses turn on the specific charges and available evidence. In general, five effective defenses to gang-related crimes include the following:
Mistaken identity. Many gang members dress alike, so perhaps the police officers mistook the innocent defendant for the real culprit.
False accusations. It is not uncommon for people to falsely accuse others – particularly rival gang members – out of anger or revenge.
No criminal activity. Just because one gang member committed a crime does not mean that the other members are guilty by association. As long as the defendant had no hand in planning or executing the crime, criminal charges should not stand.
Illegal search. If a law enforcement agency conducted an unlawful search, then the defense attorney can ask the court to disregard any evidence found through the search. If the judge agrees, the prosecution’s case may be too weak to continue.
Entrapment. Police department officers are allowed to go undercover and trick people who are already predisposed to breaking the law into committing a crime. But if the defendant would not have committed the crime but for the police’s pressure, then the charge could be dismissed on entrapment grounds.
In any criminal case, prosecutors bear the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Common evidence includes eyewitness testimony, medical records, surveillance video, GPS records, and expert forensic testimony. If the district attorney has insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction, the case should be dismissed.
5. What are the gangs in Colorado?
The national gang the Crips is one of the larger gangs in Denver. Its subsets include:
Tre Tre Crips
Tre Tre Finest
Other gangs include the Rollin’ 30s, the Bloods, Gallant Knights Insane, 303 Mafia, North Side Mafia, Inca Boyz, 18th Street gang, and 211 Crew.
Colorado’s gangactivity is typically centered in Federal Heights, Aurora, Englewood, Commerce City, East Denver, Thornton, 5 Points, Lakewood, Sheridan, Mountain View, Twin Lakes, Sherrelwood, and North-East Park Hill.
Call our criminal justice system law firm for legal advice. We offer free consultations.
Arrested for a misdemeanor or felony offense involving gang violence or other crimes? We appear in state and federal law courts throughout Colorado.