Knox prosecutors to continue to use gang law deemed constitution - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Knox prosecutors to continue to use gang law deemed constitutionally flawed

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KNOXVILLE (News Sentinel) -

Knox County prosecutors will continue to use a gang enhancement sentencing law despite an appellate court ruling striking it down as unconstitutional, and at least one judge is willing to let them.

Deputy District Attorney General Kyle Hixson said Thursday that Knox County prosecutors will neither dismiss current charges seeking to apply the gang enhancement law nor stop filing them.

The decision comes after the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals struck down the law, which boosts penalties for crimes committed by gang members, as unconstitutional last week, ruling the law was so poorly drafted it provided no connection between the crimes committed and the activities of a gang.

The law was designed to punish more severely violent crimes committed by gang members on behalf of or in furtherance of a gang. But a three-judge panel of the appellate court ruled the law's definition of a gang member is so broad it could encompass even fraternity members and that the law allows boosted penalties for crimes unrelated to gang activity.

Read more from our news partners at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

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