A new law that went into effect this week enhances penalties for felonies committed to further the interest of any criminal enterprise.
The goal is to decrease gang violence in Alabama.
During the 2023 regular legislative session, it was a priority for Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to support a bill that gave tools to law enforcement to attack what he says is a gang violence problem.
“When we see violent crime rise in many of our larger cities, as well as some of our rural communities, we’re able to tie that activity directly into what’s going on with our gangs,” said Marshall.
Defined in thelaw, a criminal enterprise is a group of three or more people. A person who meets three of 10 indicators can be identified as a member. Those include a specific style of dress, the use of a hand sign, or known gang association. Marshall says the crimes they commit are also escalated.
“Those are the ones that ultimately show up in the stories where we see the sad tales of completely innocent victims that are harmed as a result of the choice that many of those make that are involved in these criminal enterprises,” said Marshall.
If you’re found guilty of a crime that benefits a gang, you’ll receive much stricter consequences. Depending on if a firearm was used, you’ll face between five and 35 years in prison.
“This is really a new tool in the toolbox for law enforcement and prosecutors throughout our state,” said Marshall.
The law deters kids from being affiliated with gang-related activity. Anyone at least 16 years old charged with criminal gang-related activity will be charged as an adult.
“They’re making very adult decisions, particularly when they are using a firearm to commit that activity,” said Marshall.
The Attorney General’s office will train law enforcement on this specific arrest and help prosecutors take these cases to trial. The law received bipartisan support in the statehouse upon final passage of the bill.
Source : Wsfa