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Top Arizona court says gang enhancement law unconstitutional

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Posted at 6:17 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 21:17:20-04

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court says a state law that creates harsher sentences for people who threaten others only because they belong to a gang is unconstitutional.

Tuesday's unanimous decision said the law violates the U.S. Constitution's due process clause because it enhances criminal penalties even if gang membership is not involved in the underlying crime.

Justice John Lopez wrote that equals guilt by association, which is forbidden by the Constitution.

The case involved a man charged with intimidating or threatening in two different cases.

Both cases would be misdemeanors, but because the suspect was a gang member, he was charged with felonies.