San Francisco, CA – Just like the United States Supreme Court is the final arbiter on issues of federal and constitutional law throughout the country, each state has its own supreme court that passes judgment on state statutes. The California Supreme Court is located in San Francisco and on Thursday issued a ruling that will have a major impact on sentencing in felony cases statewide.
Ever since voters passed the so-called “three-strikes” law in 1994, criminal defendants with multiple felony convictions have faced harsher penalties, up to and including life in prison for their third conviction on felony charges. On paper it seems simple enough, but in practice it often means that defendants with a criminal record can receive a life sentence for a comparatively minor offense like robbery.
That was the case with Darlene Vargas, who was convicted to serve 25 years to life in prison after she was convicted of a home burglary. Vargas had two previous convictions for robbery and carjacking which both resulted from a single incident in 1999. On Thursday, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously to overturn the sentence and ruled that multiple felony convictions stemming from a single act can only count as one strike under the law.
In the decision, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, said that treating multiple convictions from a single criminal as more than one strike is not in keeping with the spirit of the law. Under this ruling, Vargas’s previous convictions can only count as a single strike and her case has been sent back to the trial court so that a new sentence can be issued.
Criminal attorney Michael Guisti says that the ruling does not make any changes to the three strikes law (which doubles the penalty for a second qualifying felony, and allows for a life sentence for a third), it only clarifies how it should be applied. However, this could have a big impact on defendants facing felony charges in California. This is why it is so important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side when your case goes to court. The law isn’t monolithic and unchanging, it is constantly growing and evolving as laws are passed and repealed and court cases set precedent. It can be difficult for the layman to keep up.
At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our team of passionate defense lawyers has years of training and experience that help them obtain the best possible outcome for their clients in Southern California’s state and federal courts. Our dedicated support staff help keep us on top of the game by making sure that we are up to date on relevant case law and precedent. When you come to our firm, your case will receive individual, one-one-one attention from one of our award-winning legal professionals. We can advise you on the best course of action when you’re facing criminal charges throughout the process of an investigation and trial.
Our dedication to serving our clients is one of the reasons why our firm has become such a fixture in Southern California’s legal scene. We know how difficult it is when you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, which is why we do everything we can to set our clients’ minds at ease. We have offices throughout Orange County in Irvine, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, and Garden Grove, conveniently located near county and federal courthouses. We also offer our guests assistance in Chinese, Korean, and other languages in order to better serve Orange County and Southern California’s diverse local communities.
So if you’ve been charged with a crime in Southern California, call the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti today at (714) 707-2797 for a free consultation.