The "Three Strikes Law" was enacted into law in 1994 after it was passed by a voter initiative. This law mandates a minimum sentence of 25 years to life for anyone who is convicted of a third crime if he or she has been convicted of two prior serious or violent felonies. We have all heard of the cases where someone gets caught committing a relatively minor crime but upon conviction for that crime lands a sentence of 25 years to life because he or she had two prior felonies in the past. Partially in response to these unfortunate situations, the voters passed Proposition 36 in 2012, which amended the three strikes law. Now under this law, a mandatory life sentence is only imposed when the third conviction is a serious or violent felony. Proposition 36 also operates retroactively so many offenders who were sentenced under the previous law for third conviction on a crime that was not serious or violent can petition the court for re-sentencing under the new three strikes law. As an Orange County three strikes lawyer, I can assist you with bringing a petition.
Before Proposition 36 passed, many people convicted of a minor, non-violent crime, such as a drug charge or shoplifting found themselves sentenced to life in prison because they had been previously convicted, sometimes long ago, of two other offenses that were considered violent or serious. These two offenses could have been convictions for the same crime, say for example, a crime wherein the victim was assaulted and robbed. Since reform of the three strikes law, that person would not face a mandatory three strikes sentence for a third conviction unless the crime was violent or serious.
Serious or violent felonies under this law include:
- Murder, attempted murder, involuntary manslaughter, and manslaughter.
- Many sex crimes
- Child molestation
- Any felony that causes great bodily injury or in which a firearm was used.
- Out-of-state kidnapping transported to California.
- Certain assaults
- Burglary of an inhabited dwelling
- Grand theft with the use of a firearm
A complete list of violent felonies for purposes of the three strikes law is found in Penal Code section 667.5(c) and serious felonies are listed in Penal Code section 1192.7(c). It is possible to receive two or even three strikes in a single trial. For example, someone who is convicted on three counts for robbing three separate persons during the same criminal act will receive a strike for each of those convictions. A three strikes lawyer in Orange County can help you try to minimize the number of strikes that you receive.
An out of state conviction can and will count as a strike as long as the conviction would have qualified as a strike in California. In our computerized world, that information is readily available to the prosecutor, even when the conviction occurred long ago.
It is important to consult with an experienced Orange County three strikes attorney whenever you face a charge for which a conviction could result in a strike. Even when it is a first strike, the best offense is a defense. Often an experienced criminal defense attorney can work out a plea arrangement to get the charge reduced to a lesser crime that does not fall under the serious or violent felony statute.
I am an experienced criminal defense attorney with proven results and I promise to vigorously defend your rights under the law. I have successfully defended hundreds of clients, including those facing sentencing under the three strikes law. Contact me at any time to set up a confidential consultation with a three strikes attorney in Orange County without charge. I will work with you and your family to provide a fee structure that best suits your circumstances.