"Three Strikes" Explained
If you're dealing with felony charges, there is a lot at stake. One factor that can make the charges even more serious is the "three strikes" law in California. Enacted in 1994, three strikes "requires a person guilty of committing both a severe violent felony and two other previous convictions to serve a mandatory life sentence in prison" ("Three-strikes" law).
The law was amended in 2012, and the sentencing for a third-strike offender was changed to 25-years-to-life, with “the addition of a means by which designated defendants currently serving a third strike sentence may petition the court for reduction of their term to a second strike sentence, if they would have been eligible for second strike sentencing under the new law” (www.courts.ca.gov).
But it still stands, under California’s three strikes law, criminal defendants who have been previously convicted of a “serious felony” face increased criminal consequences for future crimes.
What are “serious felonies”?
For purposes of California's three strikes law, "serious felonies" are listed in California Penal Code Section 1192.7(c) and 1192.8(a). Along with violent felonies, a conviction for any of these crimes will count as a strike prior. Some examples include (but are not limited to):
Any offense punishable by 10 years or more which includes an element of the use of force or involves a significant risk of force.
What happens with one "strike" prior?
“A defendant who is convicted of any new felony who has one "strike" prior (known as a second striker) must go to prison (i.e., cannot be sent to a rehab facility or placed on probation) for twice the sentence otherwise prescribed for the new offense. Additionally, he must serve 80% of the sentence imposed whereas non-strike prisoners generally get between on-third and one-half off of the sentence imposed for good behavior and working while in prison.” (www.sandiegocounty.gov)
What happens with two or more "strike" priors?
“A defendant with two or more "strike" priors (a third striker) faces a minimum of 25-years-to-life in prison. He earns no time off for good behavior or working. After serving the determinant minimum amount of time (25-years on a 25-to-life sentence) he is then eligible for, but not guaranteed, parole. Whether and when an eligible life prisoner (prisoners serving life-without-parole sentences for murder are never eligible for parole) is paroled is up to the Board of Prison Terms (BPT). The BPT is made up of members appointed by the Governor and tend to be very conservative about paroling eligible life inmates. Since no 3-Strike life prisoner has become eligible for parole and none will until 2019, no one knows how the BPT will deal with 3-Strike inmates.” (www.sandiegocounty.gov)
Our legal counsel can help
Are you or a loved one subject to a “three strikes” sentence in Fresno, California or the surrounding area? The Law Office of Annette T. Smurr can help. With over 30 years experience, Annette will fight for you and present legal defenses that can help you fight the charges. See her Recent Wins, which include cases where defendants received no jail time, probation, and/or recovery programs.
Call today for a free 30-minute consultation.
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