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