Virginia’s laws are tough on gangs in Richmond and throughout the Commonwealth.
For starters, Virginia law defines a “criminal street gang” as any group, organization, or association of three or more persons, whether formal or informal:
- Which has as one of its primary objectives or activities the commission of one or more criminal acts,
- Which has an identifiable name or identifying sign or symbol, and
- Whose members individually or collectively have engaged in the commission of, attempt to commit, conspiracy to commit, or solicitation of two or more predicate criminal acts, at least one of which is an act of violence. (Code of Virginia § 18.2-46.1)
ANTI-GANG LAWS IN VIRGINIA
While there are many laws in Virginia that target specific criminal activities that many gangs are engaged in, here are some of the gang-specific laws in Virginia that law enforcement can use to fight gangs:
- Code of Virginia § 18.2-46.2
- Code of Virginia § 18.2-46.3
- Code of Virginia § 18.2-46.3:3
- Code of Virginia § 18.2-55.1
- Code of Virginia § 16.1-260(G)
Makes it a Class 4 or 5 felony for gang members to commit certain criminal acts on behalf of a gang. Examples include robbery, assault, arson, gang recruitment, trespassing, and damage to property.
Prohibits recruitment of juveniles for criminal street gang. Specifically:
- Any person aged 18 years or older, who solicits, invites, recruits, encourages, or otherwise causes or attempts to cause a juvenile to actively participate in or become a member of a criminal street gang, shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
- Any person who, regardless of age, solicits, invites, recruits, encourages, or otherwise causes or attempts to cause another to actively participate in or become a member of a criminal street gang, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Any person who uses threats or force against a person or that person’s family to recruit that person into a gang, or force him or her to remain in the gang or to submit to a demand by a gang to commit a felony shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony.
Establishes Gang-Free School Zones in which there are enhanced penalties for gang participation and recruitment. The zones include school property, public property within 1,000 feet of school property, and school buses.
Prohibits hazing of youth gang members. Anyone who causes bodily injury by hazing any member or person seeking to become a member of a youth gang or street gang shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. It does not matter whether or not the victim of the hazing participated voluntarily in the prohibited activity.
Requires that the school division superintendent be notified when a juvenile commits a violation of any gang statute, whether on or off school property.