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Name: People v. Johnson
Case #: S202790
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 07/18/2013

Conspiracy to actively participate in a criminal street gang qualifies as a crime. Appellants were charged and convicted of conspiracy to commit felony assault, robbery, murder, and gang participation, in addition to other offenses. The appellate court found that conspiracy to actively participate in a criminal street gang did not qualify as a crime. Reversed as to this finding. The Supreme Count observed that there is nothing in the plain language of either the conspiracy statute (Pen. Code, § 182) or the active gang participation statute (Pen. Code, § 186.22, subdivision (a)) that supports the appellate court’s finding. Concluding that conspiracy in the context of the gang participation statute is a viable crime, the court observed that this is consistent with the purpose of section 186.22 to seek eradication of criminal activity by street gangs. Penal Code section 182.5, which created a new form of conspiracy that applies to gang-related crimes, does not reflect a legislative intent to preclude the use of section 186.22, subdivision (a) as an object of a traditional conspiracy under section 182. The presumption of the Wharton rule has no application here because the immediate harm that results from the gang participation offense is not limited to its participants, a criminal street gang involves a network of participants, and it cannot be said that the offense is not likely to generate additional criminal agreements. In this case, the appellants’ agreement to commit various gang shootings, coupled with their participation in and knowledge of the gang’s activities, constituted an agreement to further, promote or assist the felonious act of shooting rival gang members. The conspiracy was completed once an overt act toward the shooting was performed.