Texas legislature has enhanced penalties for convicted criminals proven by the prosecution to have executed a gang related crime. The end result of this attempt to crack down on gang violence means harsher punishments for gang members, especially if crimes are committed next to certain zones such as a school, daycare, or shopping mall. But the accusation of gang related crime does not just apply to acute incidents. In their effort to curb violence, local jurisdictions or the State of Texas may impose temporary gang injunctions that designate certain areas where it is prohibited for individuals to gather in a group and loiter, even without an express purpose to do violence.
The Texas definition of a gang is true to the Lonestar State tradition of sharpshooting: three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities (Texas Penal Code 71.01). This definition, both exacting in its precision and ambiguous enough in certain components of its wording, facilitates the addition of gang charges to general criminal charges.
At the same time, it is technically not illegal to be in a gang. Most gangs are based on mutual associations of race, ethnicity, and/or territorial claims. Gang members typically self-identify with clothing, colors, or a particular strain of street business such as drug dealing. But there are a wide range of charges that can become chalked up to a gang related crime in court, which include soliciting gang membership, coercing it, or inducing new members into a gang.
Even though membership in a gang is not illegal, as mentioned, the law is obviously meant to prevent their further growth. But because gang membership is technically not illegal, and because the Texas Legal System has a penchant for pulling out all stops to curtail the spread and scope of gang activity, there may have been some violation of your constitutional rights in the quest for justice. Thankfully Rey Morin has two decades of experience navigating Texas Gang Law and can help you emerge unscathed by these punitive laws.