How Calgary Gang and Assault Cases Could Be Related

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Violence and gang activity go hand in hand in the minds of many Calgary citizens, who remember the spate of gang-related shootings that affected the city years ago. In more recent times, though, a variety of social programs has helped steer many Calgary youths away from gangs and the violence is all but non-existent.

Despite the changes Calgary has seen, Alberta's laws regarding gang affiliation and violence—especially assault are charges—are very broad, giving Calgary Police and other law enforcement broad licenses to arrest or detain those suspected of either crime. Being charged with a gang-related assault means facing a conviction on two separate crimes, with the penalties pertaining to both, and that's a scenario that is more than plausible given the current state of Calgary's criminal justice system.

Gangs Without Names, Assaults Without Violence

The legislative problem begins with the definition of a gang in Calgary, and anywhere in Alberta, in fact, as "three or more persons" who have as one of their "main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more serious offences, that, if committed, would likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit." Any three people who associate with each other for the purpose of committing a crime—or who allegedly decide to commit a crime or "serious offence" while associating with each other—could be considered a gang under this law.

The law defining assault in Calgary is similarly broad, inclduing any unwanted touching, the threat of unwanted touching, gestures meant to threaten violence, or impeding a person while carrying a weapon (openly or conceled) all count as assault. A schoolyard scuffle is an assault under this definition, without a fist needing to be thrown.

Many assault charges are considered summary conviction offences and would likely not fit the "serious offence" wording of the gang legislation, but some Calgary assaults are considered very serious offences. If an alleged serious assault took place in the context of gang-related activity—which, again, is very broadly defined in the law—the charges and the penalties that those involved would face could end up more severe as a result.

A Criminal Defence Lawyer for Gang and Assault Charges in Calgary

Avoiding charges altogether by choosing alternatives to gang membership and staying away from physical—or even potentially physical—altercations will always be your best bet, legally speaking. With laws as broad as these, though, sometimes avoiding these charges is all but impossible. For those in Calgary who are charged with assault and/or gang-related crimes, contacting an experienced criminal defence lawyer is always a good strategy.

Susan Karpa has devoted her career to defending those accused of crimes in Calgary, and she has extensive experience handling gang-related offences and assault charges arising in the city and the Greater Calgary Area. For a free consultation to discuss the details of your case, contact her office today.

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