2022 California Three Strikes Law — All You Need to Know

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Jul 16, 2022 | Criminal Law

The “Three Strikes” law was enacted in 1994 and imposes a life sentence for almost any felony after two prior convictions for serious or violent felonies. The ideals of this law were to reduce the crime rate and deter criminal activity by doubling the sentence of a repeat felony. This way, repeat violent offenders would be kept behind bars. However, the reality now is that most of the three strike inmates have been sentenced for nonviolent crimes.

If you’re in a situation where you’re facing a potential strike or are a third-strike defendant in Long Beach, California, it’s imperative that you find a three strikes defense lawyer to help you find the best outcome for this serious case.

What the Three Strikes Rule Does

Three Strike defendants exist when they have two previous strikes, or convictions, of serious or violent felonies, and their third strike is also a serious or violent felony. The result of conviction is a sentence of 25 years to life.

If your third strike isn’t a serious or violent offense, your sentencing will be double that of what the sentencing would usually be for that felony. Sometimes, receiving a third strike for a felony that is neither serious nor violent can still give you a sentence of 25 years to life.

The three strikes rule also punishes those who receive a second strike. A second-strike felony can also have a doubled sentence.

What Constitutes a “Strike”

Strikes under the California Three Strikes Law are convictions involving a serious or violent felony. After two strikes of such a crime, any felony, even a nonviolent one, could have double the sentencing.

Types of violent felony charges include:

  • Murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Aggravated assault
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Carjacking
  • Extortion

Types of serious felony charges include:

  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Grand theft with a firearm
  • Weapons crimes
  • Sale of certain drugs to a minor

California holds a very harsh stance for repeat offenders, and even some felonies committed by juveniles at least sixteen years old can count as a strike. Out-of-state felonies that fit the parameters of an in-state strike will count as an in-state strike. You can also receive multiple strikes at one time if you are convicted of multiple felonies in a single court case.

FAQs About California Three Strikes Law

How does the Three Strike Rule work?

In California, prison sentencing for three-strike defendants must be longer and more severe than those without prior strikes for the same felony. If you are convicted of three or more violent or serious felonies, your prison sentence could be 25 years to life. Felonies that result in strikes include murder, rape, robbery, and assault with a firearm. After one strike, a second felony could have double the sentence it might normally, even if that second felony is neither serious nor violent. A strike can be received by someone who was at least sixteen when they received a juvenile adjudication.

What happens if you get three strikes?

Your third strike under this law doubles the prison sentence of your third offense. This third offense doesn’t have to be a violent or serious felony; only the first two strikes do. A second strike of a potentially nonviolent felony also results in a double sentence.

What is the central problem with three strike laws?

The Three Strikes Law has some severe central problems. It can violate the right against cruel and unusual punishment, and it keeps prisons in California overcrowded and, therefore, very expensive. Another effect of the three strikes is that inmates must complete at least 80% of their sentence, according to Penal Code 667c5, as opposed to 50%, and strike sentences must be served consecutively. The cost of the law doesn’t give a proportionate level of safety or lessened crime, as it has not been effective in reducing crime rates.

The Three Strikes Law also impacts a disproportionately larger number of minority and disabled defendants. Because juvenile adjudications can be considered strikes, many argue that the law also affects young persons of color more severely and that the adjudications shouldn’t be considered adult felonies. The law also lessens the aim toward rehabilitation and removes hope as it focuses on incarceration for much longer sentences.

Does the Three Strikes Law work as a specific deterrent?

While it’s true that repeat offenders under the Three Strikes Law can be incarcerated for longer periods of time, it is costly and ineffective. It also fails to reduce crime rates. The worst effect of the law is how often it sentences people who are not habitual violent offenders.

How Can Someone Appeal a Strike?

There are several ways to fight against California’s Three Strike Law. Either you can appeal to remove a prior strike through a Romero motion or appeal to change a felony charge to a misdemeanor. In a Romero motion, an attorney can ask a judge to dismiss a strike, which courts may do in the interest of justice. In such a case, the judge will consider the situation and factors such as the defendant’s history, the time passed since the strike was given, and the circumstances of the current charge.

An attorney can also help you appeal a three-strike sentence as a result of Proposition 36. Inmates who were sentenced under the old parameters of the Three Strike Law may no longer be sentenced. Sentences can be appealed through this process for early or immediate release. A defendant can also appeal under the Constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.

If you or a loved one is sentenced or facing charges under California’s Three Strikes Law, find an experienced three strikes attorney who can help make the process of defending or appealing your sentence or parole more effective and less detrimental to you.

Finding an Attorney for Three Strikes Defense

Because of the way California law is structured, the Three Strikes Law is harsher on defendants than on prosecutors, and it’s important to find an attorney who has the integrity and experience needed to protect you and defend you. Finding legal representation is incredibly important if you are facing three strikes charges. Contact the Law Offices of Henry Salcido so that we can help work towards the best outcome possible.

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