Monday, December 20, 2010

People v. Albillar (Cal. Supreme Ct. - Dec. 20, 2010)

Can a rape be committed "for the benefit of" a street gang?  I wouldn't have normally thought so.  Nor do Justices Werdegar and Moreno, who dissent.

But Justice Baxter makes a nonfrivolous argument to the contrary, and persuades the remainder of the California Supreme Court.

It's a tough call.  On the one hand, clearly the conduct here -- both during and after the rape -- was "related" to the defendants' status as gang members.  On the other hand, unless you're going to call any crime collectively committed by gang members as "for the benefit of" the gang" -- so they can giggle and taunt others about it, and feel collectively more brazen about their violations of the law -- it seems a pretty big stretch to say that was transpired here was designed to benefit the gang.

So both the majority and the dissent have a point.  Not an easy case.