This case involves the crimes of attempted murder and assault with a firearm committed by Zackery Prunty. He is associated with a subset gang of the larger Northern Sacramento Norteño criminal street gang. Prunty committed the crimes against someone from the Sureño gang and the prosecution used this information to their advantage. They argued that the crime was committed for the benefit of the entire Norteño gang and therefore, Prunty’s sentence was subject to the enhancement under the STEP act aka Gang Enhancements. Prunty appealed to the California Supreme Court because he believed there were no “collaborative activities” or a “collective organizational structure” between his gang and the bigger Norteño gang. In addition to this, in People v Williams the court decided that various subset activities cannot be used to prove the gang’s existence. The prosecution was barred from using the evidence of common color and symbol worn, to establish a connection between the larger group and the subset. The California Supreme Court concluded that the prosecution did not provide a sufficient amount of evidence to enhance Prunty’s sentence and therefore, reversed the lower court’s decision.
This case is very important and assists the defense by showing not all subsets are acting because of a larger gangs requirements. The DA’s will have to show how the specific smaller gang or subset benefits from a crime and not just some larger form of the gang.