Gang members could soon benefit from retaliation protection

On behalf of Law Office of Steven Haney posted in Felonies on Friday, May 31, 2013

Becoming a member of a gang is an unquestionably hazardous choice. Membership may inspire certain perks, but it also tends to accompany illegal activity and potentially deadly consequences resulting from that activity. Gang-related crime activity is spiking sharply in Illinois. In an effort to quell this tide, the state legislature may soon afford gang members protection from retaliation in exchange for witness testimony related to certain felonies committed by other gang members.

The gang culture does not tend to honor any sort of cooperation with law enforcement when such cooperation is directed at fellow gang members. However, witnesses would be protected in the event that they have spied certain felonious acts committed by rival gangs as well. Protection against retaliation by any gang members is meant to be an incentive for witnesses to cooperate without fear that they or their families will be harmed as a result.

The proposed bill being contemplated by the state legislature is entitled the Gang Crimes Witness Protection Act of 2013. It was inspired in part by several recent gang-related homicides that remain unresolved due to the failure of witnesses to cooperate with law enforcement. The bill was passed by the House unanimously last month.

It is important to note that should this bill pass, gang members will be protected from retaliation if they decide to cooperate as witnesses to certain felonies. It does not protect gang members from prosecution if they too have committed felonious acts. However, experienced legal counsel can often help gang members who have been involved in certain acts navigate the system safely and with minimal consequences if these individuals are willing to cooperate.

If you or someone you love has questions about how the criminal justice system treats gang members who have witnessed crime or have been a party to it, please contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help answer these questions.

Source: The Daily Northwestern, “Proposed act would protect witnesses of gang crimes,” Ciara McCarthy, May 14, 2013