This is especially true in Chicago, where the Chicago Crime Commission estimates that there are 70 to 100 gangs in the metropolitan area, with a membership of between 68,000 to over 150,000. Chicago also has the highest murder rate of any city in the country, and much of this is due to gang-related crimes.
Gangs recruit members where they live, work, or go to school, often by force or intimidation. If you have been recruited into a gang and are accused of committing a crime, be aware that a gang-related conviction can negatively impact your life forever. Crimes associated with gangs can be punished more severely than if they were committed by a single individual.
If you have been pressured into gang membership and have been accused of any gang-related crime, you need all the legal help you can get to defend your rights. The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the seriousness of your situation and offer aggressive representation for clients facing gang-related criminal charges. We know the courts and the criminal justice system, and how to plea bargain, negotiate guidelines and recognize when to take your case to trial. Gang-related crimes we defend include:
In addition, we defend those accused of recruiting others into street-gang membership.
In 2012, Illinois passed the Illinois Street Gang RICO Act to impose harsher sentences on individuals linked to gang activity and limit the ability of gang members who commit criminal acts to deny knowledge or involvement in gang activity.
The law permits law enforcement personnel to round up alleged gang members, even juveniles, and charge them as being involved in a criminal organization. Prosecutors will then fight to impose the highest penalties on anyone convicted of a gang-related crime.
The RICO act focuses exclusively on gang activities and can be used to impose harsher sentences on those proven to be involved in street gang activity if the prosecutor proves:
1) the existence of the gang;
2) gang activity such as recruitment; and
3) involvement in at least 3 types of crimes.
Under the act, prosecutors can charge alleged gang members with a pattern of criminal activity, such as drug offenses, robbery, murder and prostitution. A conviction under the RICO Act can carry a sentence of up to 30 years and a maximum fine of $250,000, depending on circumstances of the crimes.
Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/12-6.4 deals with criminal street gang recruitment on school grounds or public property adjacent to school grounds and criminal street gang recruitment of a minor.
Under this statute, criminal street gang recruitment occurs when, on school grounds or public property adjacent to school grounds, a person knowingly threatens the use of physical force to recruit another person to join or remain a member of a criminal street gang, or conspires to do so. This recruitment can be communicated in person, by Internet, or by a telecommunications device.
The punishment for criminal street gang recruitment and criminal street gang recruitment of a minor under 18 is a Class 1 felony. (Source: P.A. 96-199, eff. 1-1-10; 96-1551, eff. 7-1-11.)
There are many instances when individuals, especially minors, are forced into gang membership against their will and are threatened when trying to leave it.
It is considered to be a Class 2 felony in Illinois if a person intimidates or physically harms you in order to make you join a gang. It is also a Class 2 felony if someone tries to prevent you from leaving the gang.
If you are under the age of 18, it is a Class 1 felony for someone to try to force you to join a gang or prevent you from leaving the gang.
There are some factors in our society that make it easier for gangs to recruit members. these include:
If you are facing charges for alleged gang-related activities, there are ways an Illinois criminal defense attorney experienced in defending gang allegations can help.
If you are accused under RICO, there are issues that can affect the outcome, such as racial bias in the law since Illinois gangs are disproportionately comprised of minorities. In addition, the law can violate basic due process rights guaranteed under the Constitution by presuming a defendant is guilty just by virtue of belonging to a gang.
Perhaps you believe that you have been unlawfully compelled to join a gang and then subsequently accused of committing a gang-related crime. If you are accused, the Constitution says you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court. You have a right to a jury trial and to be represented by an attorney to represent your interests. And if you are arrested, you have a constitutional right to remain silent, known as Miranda rights, and the police must inform you of these rights if you are arrested.
When you are accused of recruitment or any other gang crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find. The criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process to craft an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.
We are aggressive litigators and will work with you to answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case. We represent clients in DuPage County, Cook County, Will County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.