Utah Code 76-3-203.1 - Gang Enhancements
Offenses Committed In Concert
with Two or More Persons
Enhanced (increased) penalties can be imposed under Utah Code
76-3-203.1 for both felony
convictions if a prosecutor
can prove that the crime was committed in connection with gang activity
or in concert with two or more
persons. These enhanced penalties
can be severe. For example, a 0-5 year prison term for a third degree
felony can become a 1-15 year sentence. A second degree felony 1-15
year prison term can be enhanced to a potential sentence of life in
If you are facing criminal charges in Utah, the assistance of an
defense attorney can help give you the best chance
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What constitutes a "criminal street gang" in Utah?
The concept of a "criminal street gang" is very broadly defined for
purposes of Utah's gang enhancement statute. The definition found in
Utah Code 76-9-802 does not require all of the formal organization,
gang name, signs, colors, and other indicia often associated with a
gang. The statute does require some identifying name, sign, or symbol.
But the focus of the statute is less on formal associations or
organizations, instead looking more at the actual actions and intent of
group of three or more individuals.
For a group or association to be considered a criminal street gang
under the statute, a
prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- the group is currenly in operation;
- the group has as one of its primary activities the
commission of one or
more predicate gang crimes (see Utah Code 76-9-802(5) for a definition
of "predicate gang crimes");
- the group
has an identifying name or identifying sign or
symbol, or both; and
- the members of the group, acting individually or in concert
members, engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal
Enhanced penalties cannot be imposed simply because the defendant is
determined to be a member of a recognized criminal street gang.
penalties under such a statute would likely be found to be an
unconstitutional "status crime" enhancement. Instead, Utah's gang
enhancement requires a prosecutor to show that the crime was
committed either "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in
association with any
criminal street gang" or for the purpose of "gain[ing] recognition,
acceptance, membership, or increased status
with a criminal street gang."
Can enhanced penalties be imposed if the crime did not
involve a "gang"?
The "gang" enhancements under Utah Code 76-3-203.1 apply more
broadly than just to "criminal street gangs" as defined by the
Code. The enhanced penalties provided by this statute also apply to
crimes committed simply "in concert with" two or more other people.
In order to show that a person acted 'in concert with" two or more
other people, a prosecutor must prove that the defendant was aided or
encouraged in committing the crime by two other persons, and that the
defendant was aware of this aid or encouragement. The prosecutor also
must prove that each of the other individuals was either physically
present when the crime was committed or participated as a party to
Can enhanced penalties apply if no one else is charged?
Before the enhanced penalties can be imposed, a prosecutor must prove
the involvement of other individuals. But it is not necessary
for the prosecutor to charge or convict these other individuals.
In some cases, police may not be able to identify or apprehend the
other people involved in a gang crime. This failure does not prevent a
prosecutor from seeking or stop a court from imposing the enhanced
penalties for gang or "group criminal activity" so long as the other
required elements are proven.
What are the increased penalties?
The enhancements under Utah Code 76-3-203.1 apply only to felony
charges and to class A and class B misdemeanor charges. For
each offense, the level of the offense is increased by one step. For
example, a class A misdemeanor becomes a third degree felony; and a
second degree felony can become a first degree felony.
If the charge would otherwise be a first degree felony, the gang
enhancement adds an additional indeterminate prison term of up to five
years in addition to any statutory minimum prison term for the offense.
The maximum prison term may still be life in prison.
What offenses are subject to enhanced penalties for gang
Not all Utah crimes are subject to enhancement for conduct which is
gang-related or is committed "in concert with" two or more other
individuals. But the list of offenses under Utah Code 76-3-203.1(5) is
substantial, including: drug
and related offenses; homicide
sex offenses; child pornography; property destruction; burglary
witness tampering; trespass; explosives and weapons
; prostitution; money laundering; and more.
Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Salt
in Salt Lake City, criminal
Stephen Howard has a track record that
includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals for some of the most
serious charges on the books in Utah. Each case is unique, and the
advice and assistance of an experienced criminal lawyer can be critical
to achieving the best results in your case.
Mr. Howard provides legal services to clients throughout Utah. Contact us
today to arrange
for an initial confidential consultation.
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