California voters passed Proposition 184 in 1994. Proposition 184 created the “Three Strikes” sentencing law, significantly increasing the penalties for second and third offenders of serious felonies. According to the California Penal Code, when a defendant has at least two previous “strikes,” he or she is eligible to be sentenced to a prison term of 25 years to life. However, the judge has discretion to dismiss one or more of the defendant’s serious or violent penalties if he or she does not feel 25 to life is an appropriate punishment. In 1996, the California Supreme Court decided “People v. Romero,” granting the judge this discretion.
In order for the judge to exercise this discretion, the defense attorney must submit a Romero Motion declaring that dismissing defendant’s previous strike would be in the best interest of justice. Under California Penal Code 1385, the judge must state his or her reasons for dismissing defendant’s previous strikes. Under a Romero motion, the judge will consider several factors in defendant’s case, including:
- Age at the time the previous crime was committed
- Facts and circumstances of the current alleged offense
- Whether the prior conviction(s) were the result of one single incident of over a longer period of time
- Whether defendant served one or multiple previous prison sentences
- Whether defendant cooperated with law enforcement and owned up to the wrongfulness of his or her actions
- Prior history of addiction or mental illness
- Injuries, if any, defendant inflicted on his or her victim or victims
It is important for the potential defendant to understand that should a judge dismiss a strike for sentencing purposes, the conviction for which the strike was received is not expunged. The strike felony is merely not considered for purposes of sentencing in the current case at issue.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
At the Law Offices of Sean F. Leslie, we understand the stress involved when facing criminal charges, and we can help you understand whether a Romero motion is right for your case. Our skilled attorneys can help you remove a strike allegation in order to receive a reduced sentence. Let us put our criminal defense experience to work for you. Contact us today for a consultation.