Definition of a Gang

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Cook County defense lawyerWhen someone thinks of a gang, he or she may think of urban youth participating in drug crimes and homicides. While this is often true, gangs may also consist of motorcycle gangs, prison gangs, hate groups, crime groups organized by adults, terrorist organizations, and other types of security threat groups. No matter the type of gang, the activities the group may participate in may count as violent crimes that could come with very serious consequences.

What Is a Gang?

There are two different definitions of a gang: the federal definition and the state definition. While the federal definition of a gang is used by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the state definition of a gang varies by each state. The federal definition of a gang is an association of at least three individuals who:

  • Collectively identify themselves by adopting a group identity to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, which could include a common name, slogan, sign, symbol, tattoo, style of clothing, and hand sign, to name a few;
  • Engage in criminal activity by using violence or intimidation; and
  • May create rules to join the gang, meet on a recurring basis, provide physical protection from other gangs, have control over one geographic location, and have an identifiable structure.

Youth gangs typically consist of at least three young individuals between the ages of 12 and 24 years old who share a common identity, such as a common name and other types of symbols. While youth gangs see themselves as a gang, others also recognize them as such. Youth gangs also typically have some degree of organization and rules, and they may be heavily involved in an elevated level of criminal activity. Most research has been done on youth gangs, but the group criminality is of greatest importance when defining a gang.

Call a Chicago Violent Crimes Defense Lawyer

Violent crimes are very serious, and the consequences are often undesirable in nature. If you or someone you know has been charged with a violent crime, you need effective legal representation. At the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, we have a very thorough understanding of your rights, and we will go above and beyond to protect those rights. For over 28 years, we have represented our Chicago area clients in various criminal defense cases, so you will be guaranteed seasoned legal assistance. To schedule a free initial consultation today, please call a Chicago criminal defense attorney at 312-629-0669 to discuss your case.


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