California court rules on gang participation charges

Court decides in 4-3 ruling


The California Supreme Court has ruled that a suspect can't be convicted of felony gang participation if he commits a crime by himself.
Thursday's ruling affirmed a lower court decision that reversed a Yuba County man's conviction on a special enhancement of committing a crime for the benefit of a street gang. Thirty-two-year-old Joe Rodriguez Jr. of Woodland was convicted of the charge in 2008 in connection with a robbery attempt in Marysville.
In a 4-3 ruling, the high court agreed with the lower court that Rodriguez -- a known Nortenos gang member -- acted alone in committing the robbery attempt, and therefore could not be convicted of the gang enhancement.
Rodriguez of Woodland, Calif. is currently serving a sentence of more than 8 years.
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