Gang recruitment is a serious crime in Nevada that can lead to harsh prison sentences and hefty fines.

Where can I find the statute defining “Criminal Gang Recruitment”?

NRS 201.570 defines the crime of “Criminal Gang Recruitment”.

NRS 201.570 – Definition; penalty.

  1. An adult commits the crime of criminal gang recruitment if the adult uses or threatens to sue physical violence against a child or against another person, or causes or threatens to cause damage to the property of the child or the property of another person, with the specific intent to coerce, induce or solicit the child:
    1. To become a member of a criminal gang;
    2. To remain a member of a criminal gang and not withdraw or disassociate from the criminal gang; or
    3. To rejoin a criminal gang of which the child is no longer a member or from which the child has withdrawn or disassociated.
  2. An adult who commits the crime of criminal gang recruitment is guilty of a category E felony and shall be punished as provided in NRS 193.190.
  3. As used in this section:
    1. “Adult” means a person who is 18 years of age or older.
    2. “Child” means a person who is less than 18 years of age.
    3. “Criminal gang” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 193.168.

So, what is the definition of a “criminal gang”?

In order for a “gang” to be labelled a “criminal gang” in Nevada, three elements must be met:

  1. The gang must have a common name or identifying symbol (Think of the “Sons of Anarchy” TV show, which central characters all had tattoos to indicate their allegiance to a gang with the name “Sons of Anarchy”).
  2. Has particular conduct, status and customs indicative of it (again, in Sons of Anarchy, they all rode Harley Davidson motorcycles, frequented the same business establishments and had other similar customs); and
  3. Has as one of its common activities engaging in criminal activity punishable as a felony (and again, one of the central purposes of the gang in “Sons of Anarchy” was gun-running, a felony).

If a gang meets all three requirements, then it would be considered a “criminal gang,” under Nevada Law.

Okay, but what would be considered “recruitment”?

Criminal gang recruitment requires that the victim be younger than 18 at the time of the alleged recruitment. Adults, because of their age, have been deemed capable of making their own informed decision, and are deemed less likely to be “forced” into gangs, and as such cannot be “recruited” for purposes of NRS 201.570.

If an adult uses force, violence, or the threat of force or violence to convince a minor to join a criminal gang, stay in a criminal gang, or rejoin a criminal gang, then that adult has committed the crime of “criminal gang recruitment.” Some of the ways in which an adult can exert such force include:

  • Force or violence against the child;
  • Force or violence against another person in such a manner that it would induce the child to join, rejoin, or stay in a criminal gang;
  • Threat of physical force or violence against the child or another person.

Please Note: Typically, the physical force or violence (or threat thereof) is made against the child or a close family member. However, this is not a requirement. If the defendant uses force, violence or the threat of either against any person with the intent of convincing a minor to join the criminal gang, then they have violated the statute.

What are the possible penalties?

Criminal gang recruitment is a category E felony in Nevada, which carries with it:

  • Between 1 and 4 years in a Nevada State Prison; and
  • Possible fines up to $5,000.

Are there any Defenses?

Yes, of course there are. Some of the possible defenses include:

  • Entrapment – Most everyone is familiar with “sting” operations where the police set up a trap to catch someone committing a crime. Such operations, however, operate on a very fine line between catching someone committing a crime and “entrapping” them. “Entrapment” occurs when the police induce, entice, or convince someone to commit a crime that they would not have otherwise committed without the interference and enticement. In other words, entrapment claims that the accused would never have attempted the gang recruitment without being convinced to do so by police. If you can show that you were a victim of entrapment, then the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
  • No gang – As noted above, the first step in determining if criminal gang recruitment has taken place is to make sure that there is a “criminal gang” involved. If the group in question does not meet all three elements necessary to be considered a gang, then they would not be legally deemed a “criminal gang.” Without the necessary element of a “criminal gang,” there can be no criminal gang recruitment and the charges against you should be dropped or dismissed.
  • Lack of Evidence – As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving every element of the crime “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is not enough evidence to uphold this high level of proof, then the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
  • Police Misconduct – Some officers will stoop to inappropriate means to find evidence against of a crime. If you can show that your arrest, or any investigation into your conduct was done improperly, then the evidence obtained from the improper arrest or investigation will be thrown out as “fruit of the poisonous tree.”

What should I do if I’ve been charged with Criminal Gang Recruitment?

As with any crime, it is very important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible so that you can discuss the specific circumstances as well as any defenses that may apply to your case.

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