San Jose has been newly introduced to a strange crime, some of the details of which have yet to be determined. According to local law enforcement agents, a 17-year-old boy plotted with 2 of his fellow students, known gang members, to carry out a home invasion at his own home. Although the 2 gang members were the ones to actually invade the home on Shiloh Place in Evergreen, the son stands accused of setting the whole thing up. His motivation remains unknown, but what is known is that the 2 youths entered the home, grabbed knives from the kitchen, and sought out 2 women and a young girl who were in the home. The 3 alleged victims survived by locking themselves in a bathroom. All three young persons, plus a fourth, have been charged with gang crimes, burglary, and robbery. Prosecutors in Santa Clara County claim that they will be tried as adults.
While the crime of ‘burglary’ is the actual entering of a structure, room, or vehicle with the intent to commit a particular crime (CA Penal Code 459), ‘robbery’ (CA Penal Code 211) is the taking of property from an actual person in their presence. Robbery is a violation of California law that is always treated as a felony. A first-degree robbery conviction may end in up to 9 years in prison, while a second-degree robbery conviction may mean up to 5 years in state prison. Penalties for first-degree burglary, also always treated as a felony, may, on the other hand, end in up to 6 years in state prison.
The fate of these 4 boys (ages 16 to 22 years) remains to be seen. However, it is certain that prosecutors are already considering gang sentencing enhancements as part of the charges (see CA Penal Code 186.22). Technically called the “California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act,” or STEP, sets forth the possibility for extra time in prison when a particular crime can be tied to gang-related activity. For example, anyone committing a felony in order to help their gang may be sentenced to an extra 15 years to 25-to-life in addition to the normal sentence for their crime.