Three strikes is a sentencing scheme in California that dramatically increases punishment for people that are repeat offenders.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a felony, and has a prior criminal record, it is critical to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney right away.
Sentencing Under Three Strikes:
A defendant who commits any felony, that has two or more “strike” priors, must be sentenced to at least 25-years-to-life in State Prison.
A defendant who commits any felony with one “strike” prior must be sentenced to a doubled term on the current felony.
BEWARE! The current felony does not have to be a serious or violent felony; any felony will do. It is where the prior convictions are serious or violent felonies that the 3-Strikes law comes into effect.
Also unique in 3-Strikes cases is the reduction in “good behavior” credits.A defendant who commits a felony with one “strike” prior must serve at least 80% of their sentence in prison; good behavior credits cannot exceed one-fifth of the total prison term. Compare this to non-strike cases, where up to 50% of the sentence may be reduced because of good behavior credits.
If you or someone you care about has been charged in a 3-Strikes case, please consult with a defense attorney right away.
What is a Strike?
A strike is a prior conviction of a serious or violent felony. They are listed in the California Penal Code. Serious felonies are listed at Penal Code Section 1192.7 (c), while violent felonies are listed at Penal Code Section 667.5 (c). [Bill-link to both of these code sections].
The 3-Strikes law went into effect on March 7, 1994. This means that the current felony must have occurred after the effective date to trigger 3-Strikes sentencing. However, the prior strike convictions could have occurred at any time. This means that priors from before March 7, 1994 count as strikes, even though the 3-Strikes law had not been implemented yet.
Defending a 3-Strikes Case
A skilled criminal defense attorney can help. The first course of action is to determine whether there is a defense to the current felony case. Only a criminal defense lawyer can assist in making this determination. It is therefore critical that if you or someone you care about has been charged in a 3-strikes case, that you consult with a criminal defense attorney at once.
It is possible to persuade the judge to dismiss a “strike” prior, and thereby avoid a 3-Strikes sentence. This can occur before, during, or after trial, up to the time that judgment is pronounced.
It is also possible to reduce a “wobbler” to a misdemeanor, and avoid a 3-Strike sentence. A “wobbler” is a case that can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Although the prosecutor may be seeking a 3-Strike sentence by charging a “wobbler” as a felony, it is possible to persuade a judge to declare the current charge a misdemeanor, and avoid a 3-Strikes sentence.
Where the current felony charge is drug-related, it is still possible to persuade the judge to allow diversion although this is a decision that should not be made without first consulting a criminal defense lawyer.
If you or someone you care about is facing criminal charges, contact a criminal defense attorney at once. To schedule a free confidential consultation with attorney, call Attorney Roger Lytel at 805.966.6806.