Criminal street gangs consist of three or more people, with a common name, sign, or symbol that form an allegiance for a common purpose and engage in specific criminal activity as defined in the penal code. Many street gangs are formed according to ethnic or racial lines.

Fear and respect are synonymous in the gang culture. Gang members demand respect by attempting to intimidate rival gang members as well as the public. Gang members also work in conjunction with each other to commit crimes such as drug sales, car thefts, burglaries, and assaults. These crimes benefit the gang as a whole by generating money and establishing their reputation.