Articles Tagged with three strikes

While California’s “three strikes” law conjures images of America’s national pastime, it is anything but fun and games.  A “third strike” criminal conviction in the state of California can have serious long-term consequences in the form of a lengthy prison sentence. The purpose of this article is to explain how California’s “three strikes” law works. If you have been charged with a second, third, or subsequent felony in the state of California, it is imperative that you rely on a skilled and experienced California criminal defense attorney. Your future is at stake.

California’s Three Strikes Law was Reformed in 2012

There is some good news with regard to California’s Three Strikes Law. In 2012, the law was reformed to substantially limit the imposition of mandatory 25-years-to-life prison sentence for third-time offenders whose third offense does not rise to the level of a “violent” or “serious” felony. Think, for example, of the felony of possession of a controlled substance. Responding to public sentiment that the existing law was both unfair for treating non-violent offenders just as harshly as violent offenders, and costly for resulting in so many taxpayer-funded lengthy prison sentences, the reformed law makes important and effective distinctions. California’s three strikes law is still potent and bears much weight on an offender’s future freedom.

If you have been charged with a crime in the state of California, you may face doubly serious consequences if you already have a felony conviction on your record. This is because California has a Three Strikes sentencing law on its books. Enacted in 1994, the law was intended to deter repeat offenders by levying increased punishment on subsequent serious felonies. Specifically, at its inception, California’s Three Strikes law required that a defendant convicted of a second, third, or other felony to be sentenced to a prison term twice the length ordinarily provided for the crime. The “strikes” model is one of escalation – the more strikes on one’s criminal record, the greater the punishment. While a second felony strike doubles the stakes, a third may triple them or worse. Upon receipt of a third strike via conviction of a serious felony following two or more previous such convictions, a prison term of at least 25 years to life is to be doled out by the state.  Since 1994, California’s Three Strikes sentencing law has been subject to some important amendments. Now, as then, it must be said, the law is serious business. As such, individuals facing a potential second or third strike would do well to rely on the skill and expertise of California criminal defense attorney.

Understanding the Difference Between a Felony and a Serious Felony

Language matters in lawmaking. When the California legislature crafted the Three Strikes law in 1994, it was concerned with “serious” felonies. This may create some confusion, as it is common knowledge that a felony is already termed as such to designate a crime more serious than a misdemeanor. What, then, constitutes a serious felony? The following list makes clear the crimes that are regarded as serious, and thereby triggering the Three Strikes law, by the state:

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