Understanding California’s Three Strikes Law

Posted on Wednesday, January 17th, 2018 at 6:28 am    

Justice Figurine

California’s Three Strikes Law was introduced in 1994 as a way of dealing with certain repeat felony offenders. The state’s criminal justice system considers repeat offenders to be challenging to deal with, since they can be difficult to reform. The Three Strikes Law significantly extends prison terms with the idea that offenders will work to modify their behavior to avoid spending so much time behind bars.

“Strikers,” as these offenders are known, are also taken off the streets for a longer period of time, which puts citizens at ease.

The California Three Strikes law only applies to certain offenders, but it can be significantly higher penalties. If you’ve been charged with a crime and are concerned about getting a strike, contact Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816.

Composition of the Three Strikes Law

The Three Strikes Law is so named because its core regulation puts three-time offenders already convicted of multiple serious felonies in prison for a minimum of 25 years to life. Not every felony has to be serious; for example, if you were convicted previously of a serious and a non-serious felony, and you’re sentenced for a third, serious felony, your prison term may still be dictated by the Three Strikes Law.

But there’s more to the law than just “three strikes and you’re out.” Other important factors to keep in mind include:

  • “Two Strikes.” If you have previously been convicted of a serious felony offense, and you are sentenced for a second felony (whether serious or not), your sentence may be twice as long as the legal timeframe for the new conviction.
  • Consecutive sentences required. The law requires that sentences for multiple felony offenses run consecutively, instead of concurrently. The number of felony convictions that can be added to a consecutive sentence is limitless.
  • Time period between felonies not considered. It doesn’t matter if your pervious felony conviction is a year old or 25 years old. The amount of time that has passed in between felony convictions is not taken into consideration.
  • No probation, no suspension. You will not be eligible for probation, nor will you be able to receive a suspended sentence.
  • A limit on credits. Anyone serving under the Three Strikes Law may only reduce their time in prison by one-fifth through work or education credits, whereas other prisoners may reduce time by up to one-half.
  • Proposition 36. In 2012, California voters amended the Three Strikes Law in two ways. (1) The third strike must be a violent or serious felony (previously, offenders could be sentenced under the law even if their new felony was not serious). (2) Strikers could petition to have their sentence downgraded to Two Strikes if they qualify under the amendment.

What Is Considered a “Serious Felony”?

It’s important to understand what is considered a violent or serious felony offense, since these felonies affect strikers. Examples of these offenses include:

  • Violent Felony Offenses- Murder, robbery, rape, other types of violent sexual assault.
  • Serious Felony Offense- Serious felonies include all the same offenses under violent felonies, but also include a whole host of other crimes, such as assault with the intent to commit robbery or attempted murder.

Contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

Even with the amendments, the Three Strikes Law can spell serious trouble for anyone who is facing multiple felony charges. If you are in need of help with your felony charges, you should contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Spolin Law P.C., PC. Our team of highly qualified attorneys work hard to provide the best defense for our clients. Contact us today at (310) 424-5816.