How best to defend against a gang related murder charge based on guilt by association?

UPDATED: May 31, 2011

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How best to defend against a gang related murder charge based on guilt by association?

My brother was charged with attempted murder together with 4 other kids when he was 17 years old. He wasn’t at the crime scene when the shooting happened and he wasn’t the shooter, but all 5 of them got the same charges since the DA based his charge on the theory of backup. So I’m trying to search for any resources that can be used as a document (from either sociology, psychology, or law study, etc.) to prove what the DA’s prosecution him of cannot be applied to all cases. I desperately need help with this project because right now the DA offered him a 17 years in prison or life sentence if losses at trial. What else can we do?

Asked on May 31, 2011 under Criminal Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The fact that you are asking this question in this forum has me a little concerned.  Does your brother have an attorney?  He is entitled to have an attorney appointed on his behalf if he can not afford to hire a private attorney.  You claim he was not at the scene but the legal connection to prove the DA's case may not require that.  It depends on the statute and its application through case law and the facts of the case.   If he does have an attorney and he feels that the attorney is not competent he can ask for a new attorney.  As for resources, try and contact your local law school and see if they have a clinic that they run for criminal matters and if they can help with research on the issue.  The DA's burden is high in a criminal case so any glimmer of misapplication of the law or break in connection to your brother and the facts could be enough to help him.  His attorney should also hire a private investigator to assist.  Good luck.

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