Someone who has been accused of gang crimes in Las Vegas is facing several harsh penalties. In fact, the state has a gang crime enhancement law under NRS 193.168. This law means that any crime that is committed as part of gang activity will be subject to stronger penalties, which could include up to an additional 20 years in prison.
Before NRS 193.168 comes into play, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was involved in a gang. Nevada law defines a gang as an organization that survives even if individual members come and go. Additionally, to be considered a gang, the organization must have a recognizable name or symbol and engage in activities that indicate gang affiliation. Moreover, the organization must commonly engage in criminal activity.
One of the first steps in proving gang affiliation is a hearing at which both the prosecution and the defendant may bring evidence. If the prosecution succeeds in persuading the court that the crime was committed in furtherance of a gang, then the defendant will be subject to NRS 193.168 and subject to the harsher schedule of penalties.
NRS 193.168 is not charged as a separate crime. Instead, it merely provides “enhancements” to the actual crime that caused the arrest. This means that if the defendant is convicted, they may be sentenced to an extraordinarily long prison sentence. Accordingly, it is in the defendant’s best interests to hire a gang crimes attorney who can argue against the gang law enhancements.
If you have been accused of gang crimes in Las Vegas, then you need to hire a competent criminal defense lawyer at the earliest opportunity. Several defenses are available, and any of them could potentially take the gang enhancements law off the table. For instance, your attorney may be able to demonstrate that there was no intent to further the interests of the gang or that the organization is not actually a gang at all. It may additionally be possible to show police misconduct or demonstrate that no crime was committed.
Don’t wait to hire an attorney if you’ve been accused of gang crimes in Las Vegas.