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Under 18-23-102 CRS, Colorado law makes it a crime to recruit or encourage young people to become involved in a street gang. This includes intimidating, forcing, or threatening anyone under the age of 18 to join a criminal street gang.
Recruitment of juveniles for a criminal street gang is a misdemeanor with penalties including up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
18-23-102 CRS states that:
(1) A person commits recruitment of a juvenile for a criminal street gang if he or she is eighteen years of age or older and:
(a) Knowingly solicits, invites, recruits, encourages, coerces, or otherwise causes a person younger than eighteen years of age to actively participate in or become a member of a criminal street gang; or
(b) By use of force, threat, or intimidation directed at any person, or by the infliction of bodily injury upon any person, knowingly prevents a person younger than eighteen years of age from leaving a criminal street gang.
(2) Recruitment of a juvenile for a criminal street gang in violation of subsection (1)(b) of this section is a class 1 misdemeanor, and recruitment of a juvenile for a criminal street gang in violation of subsection (1)(a) of this section is a class 2 misdemeanor.
Recruiting a juvenile for a criminal street gang is a misdemeanor in Colorado.
1. What is the recruitment of juveniles for a criminal street gang?
It is a criminal offense for anyone 18 years of age or older to recruit a juvenile under the age of 18 to join a street gang. This includes anyone who solicits, invites, encourages, coerces, or otherwise causes a juvenile to actively participate in a criminal street gang or become a member. It also includes making threats, using force or bodily injury, intimidating a juvenile to become a gang member, or preventing a juvenile from leaving a criminal street gang.1
2. What is considered a criminal street gang?
In order for a defendant to be convicted of the recruitment of juveniles for a criminal street gang, the prosecutor may have to show that the group involved is a criminal street gang under Colorado law.
A criminal street gang is any ongoing organization, association, or group of 3 or more persons which has a primary goal or activity to commit one or more criminal acts, and whose members engage in a pattern of criminal activity. A pattern of criminal activity means engaging in at least two of the specified predicate criminal acts. This includes the commission of a crime, or the attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of specified criminal acts.2
Street gangs in Colorado may include the nationally active Crips and Bloods, as well as individual local street gangs.
Criminal street gangs are often prosecuted under Colorado’s Organized Crime Act. This prohibits organized criminal activity which involves groups like the mafia or criminal street gangs. The predicate pattern of criminal activity includes a number of state and federal criminal acts, including:
Aggravated motor vehicle theft
Credit card fraud
Sexual exploitation of children
Attempt to influence a public servant
Intimidating a juror
Tampering with a witness or victim
Possessing an illegal weapon or a dangerous weapon
CRS 18-23-102 penalties include 6 to 18 months in jail.
3. What are the penalties for recruiting juveniles for a street gang?
It is a class 2 misdemeanor when a person knowingly solicits, invites, recruits, encourages, coerces, or otherwise causes a person younger than eighteen years of age to actively participate in or become a member of a criminal street gang. Penalties include up to 120 days in jail and/or up to $750.
It is a class 1 misdemeanor when a person, by use of force, threat, or intimidation directed at any person, or by the infliction of bodily injury upon any person, knowingly prevents a person younger than eighteen years of age from leaving a criminal street gang. Penalties include up to 364 days in jail and/or up to $1,000.3
An adult charged with recruiting juveniles for a street gang may also face a number of other criminal charges related to the gang. This may include conspiracy charges related to gang activity even if an individual was not the person who actually committed the crime.
4. Related Offenses
Colorado law on criminal street gangs applies to a number of unlawful acts. The district attorney may press charges for related criminal offenses ranging from minor vandalism and graffiti to more serious offenses, such as drug trafficking, drive-by shootings, prostitution, weapons charges, assault, and murder.
4.1. Colorado Organized Crime
The Colorado Organized Crime Act prohibits a number of criminal activities aimed at members of criminal enterprises. Criminal gang activity may also be known as “racketeering.” Criminal racketeering in Colorado is a class 2 felony, with penalties including up to 24 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million.
4.2. Drug Crimes
There are criminal laws against the possession, sale, manufacture, or trafficking of controlled substances. Penalties for simple possession for personal use may involve drug treatment instead of jail. However, the sale, manufacture, or distribution of drugs can lead to felony criminal charges. The penalties for drug crimes depend on the type of drugs involved, the amount of drugs, and the defendant’s criminal history.
4.3. Colorado Gun Laws
Gun possession and ownership is subject to a number of restrictions under Colorado gun and firearms law. Certain individuals are prohibited from owning a gun, including fugitives, individuals unlawfully in the United States, and people subject to a restraining order or protective order that prohibits gun possession.
4.4. Vehicle Theft
Aggravated motor vehicle theft in Colorado involves obtaining or exercising control of someone else’s car, truck, motorcycle or other vehicles. Aggravated vehicle theft is a felony, with penalties depending on the defendant’s criminal history and the value of the stolen vehicle. The penalties for first-degree motor vehicle theft include up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Call our criminal justice law firm for legal advice.
Arrested by law enforcement for recruiting juveniles to join a criminal street gang? Or are you being investigated for gang crimes? Please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group.
Colorado Revised Statute 18-23-102(1)
C.R.S. 18-23-102(2). Prior to March 1, 2022, recruiting juveniles was always a class 1 misdemeanor carrying 6 to 18 months in jail and/or $500 to $5,000 in fines. SB21-271.