Gang Affiliations: Warnings from a Calgary Defence Lawyer

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Alberta's crackdown on all kinds of crime, from harsher impaired driving or "DUI" laws to the increasing attention being paid to drug violations, has many hidden consequences. Some of these new laws can put innocent people and those accused of minor crimes at risk of potentially severe penalties, and that doesn't serve anyone in the province or our city of Calgary well.

Newer laws involving criminal organizations or gangs are especially worrisome. Not only are the penalties for gang-related behavior made harsher, in many cases, than the penalties for the same crime committed by non-gang members, but what constitutes a gang is now more broadly defined. Simply "participating" in a gang or other criminal organization is now a crime in and of itself, without any other illegal activity necessary for a charge to be laid against you.

With that background, this Calgary defence lawyer thought it was time for a quick word of warning regarding gang affiliations.

New Laws and Police Powers but Calgary Citizens on Defence

Again, if you participate in a Calgary gang or criminal organization, even if you don't break any other laws, you could be charged with a crime. And all it takes to be considered a gang/criminal organization is to have three or more people who get together more than once and plan or commit a crime.

Participation in a gang, meanwhile, can consist of as little as using a "name, word, symbol, or other representation that identifies, or is associated with, a criminal organization." "Frequent association" with any member of a gang can also be considered evidence of gang participation, making it all too easy for many of Calgary's most defenceless to fall under the suspicion of Calgary Police and ultimately require the protection of a defence lawyer.

Once Calgary Police or other law enforcement agencies have identified what they believe to be a criminal organization, they are given tremendous latitude when it comes to investigating potential crimes. They have greater discretion to use enhanced electronic surveillance for up to a year after identifying a potential gang, and can seize additional property considered the proceeds of gang activity.

Those accused of gang-related crimes in Calgary will also face a tougher ordeal, and might find it harder to raise an effective defence without the assistance of a lawyer. Those charged with gang-related offences can be held without bail, and if convicted will face tougher sentencing guidelines and delayed eligibility for parole.

Criminal Defence Starts with Knowing the Laws Regarding Calgary Gangs

To sum up: it's incredibly easy to be considered a "participant" in a Calgary gang, and such participation can be considered a criminal act in and of itself. It's also easier for Calgary Police to investigate suspected gangs and gang participants, even in secret, and harder for those accused of gang-related crimes to return to their normal and productive lives quickly and easily. So be warned—even the slightest gang affiliation can put you in legal trouble.

These laws will only serve to isolate gang members still further, when isolation is already a significant factor in Calgary when it comes to the formation of gangs, and this doesn't seem like the best course of action for our city or Alberta as a whole. They are the laws me must contend with, though, and your best protection is being aware of them.

If you or a family member has been accused of gang-related crimes or simply participation in a gang, contact Calgary defence lawyer Susan Karpa today. Get the knowledge you need with a free consultation, and get the help you deserve as your case moves forward.

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