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their own level of respect within the gang.  The 18th Street gang has been known to permit smaller gangs to take credit for joint gang activities.  By working together, 18th Street and Little Watts expand their alliances and territory.  In the event of a gang war, each gang would be able to call upon a larger number of members.  Goetz testified “commi[tting] . . . crimes is . . . what gang members do.  They are not law[] abiding, citizens.  They are criminals.”  Goetz opined gang members commit crimes to “buy dope, and to purchase weapons to commit more crimes or defend their territory.”  

In order to show the pattern of criminal activity required by section 186.22, subdivision (b)(1), the People introduced certified docket sheets which indicated two members of Little Watts had been convicted of driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent in March 2000, and another suffered a sustained juvenile petition for driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent in October of 1999.  

2.  Disposition of the charges.

The trial court dismissed count 2, attempted carjacking (§§ 664/215, subd. (a)), at the close of the People’s evidence.  The jury convicted Fuentes and Hernandez of robbery of Rodriguez committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang in which Hernandez personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon.

CONTENTIONS

Fuentes and Hernandez contend the trial court erroneously refused to bifurcate the trial of the criminal street gang enhancement from the trial of the underlying offenses.  They also claim the trial court committed various instructional errors.

DISCUSSION

1.  The trial court abused its discretion in denying the request to bifurcate the criminal street gang enhancement from the underlying offenses; however, on this record, appellants cannot show prejudice.

    a.  Background.

In 1988, California passed the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Protection Act (the STEP Act).  The STEP Act, inter alia, established enhancements for felonies

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