As Texans are well-aware, the state is no stranger to gang violence, and Dallas is no exception. On Oct. 29, 2016, WFAA (News 8) published an article entitled, Dallas struggling to combat gang violence. In the article, Wes Melton, who left the department shortly before being interviewed by News 8, had spent part of 2016 trying to prove that many of the murders in Dallas were gang-related. In fact, Melton invested hundreds of hours on the project.
According to News 8, “His findings showed that at least 40 percent involved gang members – either victims, suspects or both.” When Melton was on the force, he did not work in the gang unit, but as a member of the violent crimes task force, he worked closely with the gang unit.
As of Oct. 29, 2016, there were nearly “10,000 documented gang members in Dallas,” News 8 reported. Of those, less than 100 of them were minors.
Gang Members Face Stiffer Penalties
Clearly, gangs are a problem in the Greater Dallas Area, and it comes as no surprise to us because we represent individuals who are charged with gang-related crimes on a regular basis. If you are facing criminal charges for gang-related activity, it’s important that you know that Texas imposes stiffer penalties upon defendants who commit gang-related crimes.
In Texas, “organized crime” is addressed under Title 11, Chapter 71 of the Texas Penal Code. Under Section 71.02(b), Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, when an individual commits a gang-related crime, the offense is one category higher than it would be if the crime was not connected to a criminal gang. However, if the victim was under the age of 17 and suffered serious bodily injury, the defendant would face harsher penalties (e.g. life in prison).
Examples of sentencing enhancements for gang-related crimes:
- A second degree felony would be charged as a first degree felony.
- A third degree felony would be charged as a second degree felony.
- A state jail felony would be charged as a third degree felony.
- A Class A misdemeanor would be charged as a state jail felony.
If you’re facing gang-related charges, you’re in serious trouble. Don’t wait, contact the Plano criminal defense lawyers at The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC today!