A criminal street gang is a collection of people engaged in a pattern of promoting, furthering, or assisting any felonious criminal conduct.
The criminal street gang statute was enacted by our legislature effective January 1, 1993 as a direct response to a rise in the level of violence and hate by persons who apparently wanted to claim the streets of our cities as their own. The foundation for the criminal street gang statute is based on a very old principle of law prohibiting criminal conspiracies (an agreement between two or more people to commit an unlawful act, coupled with at least one overt act done for the purpose of furthering the conspiracy).
Criminal street gangs are invariably territorial, and frequently ethnically grounded. The Contra Costa District Attorney's Office understands how truly dangerous to both persons, and principles of freedom, criminal street gangs are. This Office also recognizes that not all persons who wear a certain color, carry themselves a certain way, or promote principles of cultural identity are members of a criminal street gang. Indeed, those very fundamental principles promoting diversity are a source of great strength to Californians as a people.
It is for this reason that those who commit felonious crimes in the name of promoting cultural identity are some of the most insidious and dangerous people there are in a free state. They attack the very foundations of freedom.