OC Criminal Lawyer Discusses California's Three Strikes Law
In California, the Three Strikes Law is an extremely harsh punishment used against criminal defendants; if convicted, a person will be sentenced to at least 25 years to life imprisonment. As Third Strike conviction may result in the person spending the rest of their life in prison, they may never have the opportunity to be with families, have a job, look after parents and children, or simply have a normal life.
Under California's Three Strikes Law, if a person has two or more prior felony convictions, that person will be sentenced to a minimum 25 years to life imprisonment at the third felony conviction. An enhanced sentence for any third felony conviction is mandatory, so long as the prior two convicted felonies were either violent and/or serious. Due to the disproportionately severe punishments often given to defendants, the Three Strikes Law is highly controversial and is harshly criticized for its inhumanity. Yet, the United States Supreme Court announced it as constitutional in 2003.
California Penal Code Section 667.5(c) lists all violent felonies that qualify as a strike.
The most commonly seen violate felonies include:
- Murder & Attempted Murder
- Voluntary Manslaughter
- Threats to Victims / Witnesses
- Continuous Sexual Abuse of a Child
- Felony Punishable By Death or Imprisonment for Life
- Felony in Which the Defendant Inflicts Great Bodily Injury
- Assault with the Intent to Commit a Specified Felony
California Penal Code Section 1192.7(c) is a list of all serious felonies that qualify for the first two strikes. There is a large portion of this that overlaps between serious felonies and the above violent ones.
Without repeating the above list, below are some commonly seen serious felonies:
- The use of exploding a destructive device or any explosive with the intent to injure, to cause great bodily injury or mayhem, or with intent to murder
- Burglary of an inhabited dwelling house or trailer coach
- Robbery of a bank
- Holding of a hostage by a person confined in a state prison
- Any felony in which the defendant personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon
- Selling, furnishing, administering, giving, or offering to sell, furnish, administer, or give to a minor any heroin, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), or any methamphetamine-related drug
Strikes are counted by a charge, instead of a case. Therefore, a person can have two strikes from a single case if he/she has two felonies convictions. So the next time he/she is charged with a felony, the Three Strikes Law will apply and impose an enhanced punishment.
Normally, a person needs to serve 50% of the entire sentence to qualify for parole. However, in the case of a Three Strike sentence, a person is not qualified for parole until he/she completes 80% of jail time.
The judge has broad discretion to decide whether to impose an enhanced sentence to a third strike crime; however, the defendant can petition to have the judge to do so by filing a Romero Motion. The court will take all factors and situation of the defendant and the case into consideration. For the purpose of avoiding a Third Strike sentencing, we can file a Romero Motion to ask the court to disregard the prior convictions. We will also appeal to the jury to consider the third charge separately. This may result in a huge difference where a defendant now may be required to serve less than 32 months rather than 25 years.
If you or your loved one is facing an enhanced sentence under the Three Strikes Law, call our respected Orange County criminal attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 for a free consultation. We can inform you of your rights throughout the pre-trial process, explain you the elements that the prosecutor needs to prove for a conviction, familiarize you with all possible defenses you can assert, and defend you in court. Do not give up yet! Let us fight for you. Our goal is to win your case, and we settle for nothing less!
- Three Strikes Law Blogs
- California Supreme Court Issues Important Ruling on State’s Three Strikes Law
- California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.