Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Danger of Gangs

As adolescents go through their teenage years, their parents are often concerned about several issues that affect their safety. One of these concerns may be a membership with a gang. While being a gang member is not a crime, the criminal activities surrounding a gang may get young people into trouble with the law. A qualified criminal defense attorney will be helpful when dealing with legal problems related to gang activity.

A gang is a group or organization consisting of three or more individuals who are focused on committing crimes. Often, one must actually commit a crime to be accepted in a particular organization. Usually, gangs will have a certain name or symbol to identify the group and distinguish the organization from other gangs. When gang members are young, between the ages of 13 and 24, they may be referred to as youth gangs. A youth gang operates much like an adult gang. They can be formal or informal. Youth gangs are involved in a variety of crimes that can impact a community in detrimental ways.

Experts say there are many reasons for a young person to be attracted to a gang. They may include the following:

  • A desire to make money

  • To gain status and acceptance

  • A fear for their safety

  • The need to seek protection through a gang membership

Although it is not illegal to be in a gang, some jurisdictions have laws in place designed to minimize gang activities or membership. There are laws to keep gang members from loitering and congregating on the streets. Sometimes, gang members conspire to commit a crime, and conspiracy is a crime. There can be harsh penalties for those who are involved in crimes while being a gang member. If you actively participate in a gang and promote a crime committed by the gang, you could face serious legal consequences. In fact, you could face jail time.

According to the National Gang Center, the most common age for youth to join a gang is 15 years old. Adolescent boys are more likely to be involved in gang activity than girls. Parents should be knowledgable of the characteristics associated with gang membership. These behaviors may include:

  • Withdrawing from family and longtime friends

  • Changes in school attendance and poor performance

  • Being extremely secretive

  • Staying out late with no good reason

  • Displaying negative opinions about law enforcement, teachers, and school officials

  • Wearing clothing of a particular color or items with special logos

  • Drastic changes in dress or appearance

  • Interest in gang-related music, movies, or videos

  • Suspected use of alcohol, inhalants, or narcotics

  • Possessing firearms and other weapons

  • Associating with gang-involved individuals

  • Attending gain-related functions and social events

Parents should talk with their children about gangs and the pitfalls of hanging out with individuals who are involved in gangs. Parents should get to know their children's friends, as well as their parents. Often the urge to join a gang or use drugs or alcohol comes from their friends and associations. Help your children overcome peer pressure by showing them ways to deal with pressure in an effective manner. Parents should spend quality time with their kids and show them parental love. Many times, kids are looking for love, attention, and acceptance in all the wrong places. Finally, tell your children about the legal consequences of gang associations, which can negatively impact their future.

If your child has been involved in a gang-related offense, the consequences can be severe and serious. Boston Criminal Defense Attorney, Edward Molari can provide you and your child with legal advice that may help reduce the punishment or lessen the charge. He cares about you and provides personalized legal services in every case.  Contact Attorney, Edward Molari at 617-942-1532 for a free consultation.