Birmingham Criminal Defense Report: Alabama Legislators Seek to Stiffen Legal Penalties for Gang-Related Activities

Tags: Criminal Defense

Times are tough and it’s not surprising that some people are resorting to pretty crimes to make ends meet. As an Alabama criminal defense attorney, I have the skills to represent individuals caught in the legal system as a result of alleged illegal activities. Whether you live in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Decatur, Gadsden, or Opelika, local law enforcement has little tolerance for crimes of all types.

From speeding tickets and minor vandalism to sex crimes and felonious assault, courts from Huntsville to Mobile are seeing more and more criminal cases. The number of persons going before criminal court judges will likely increase in the future thanks to new legislation being pushed by local politicians.

According to reports, Alabama officials are looking to increase the penalties forgang-related crimes, such as graffiti painting. Although not as serious as other crimes, such as grand larceny, child pornography and criminal sexual behavior, graffiti painting has become a highly visible act that authorities apparently want to wipe out.

Reportedly, local legislators are working on a bill that will provide specific penalties for gang-related activities, including harsher punishment for so-called vandals who paint graffiti.

At the time of the news article, Alabama Senator Roger Bedford of Russellville and Representative Johnny Mack Morrow of Red Bay, were poised to introduce the Alabama Streetgang Act, brought about due to the frequent instances of graffiti painting in Russellville, AL.

Alabama does not have specific penalties related to gang activity. The proposed law would deem it a criminal offense to participate in an organized group of criminals or assist such groups. The law is supposed to boost the punishment for graffiti, which gangs reportedly use to mark their territory, according to law enforcement agencies.

Over the last several months, groups identified as the “South Side 13,” “Latin Kings,” “18th Street” and “13th Street” have spray-painted various structures around the city, including sports parks, business establishments and billboards.

In one instance, police arrested four juveniles found coming out of an alley on Washington Street near a graffiti painted hardware store. According to Russellville police, the four were carrying bags containing spray-paint cans and also had paint on their hands and clothing.

Although the four youths allegedly admitted having painted graffiti on the local business, news reports indicate that police officials remain frustration that current laws would not allow them to made examples out of those four kids.

Based on news articles, the proposed law would recognize four new punishable offenses:

1) Graffiti damage of more than $2,500 would be a Class B felony
2) Graffiti damage between $500 and $2,500 would be a Class C felony
3) Graffiti damage less than $500 would be a misdemeanor
4) Possession and distribution of graffiti tools would be a Class A misdemeanor

Officials want stiffer graffiti punishment,, January 23, 2010

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