California’s Three Strikes Law was originally established in 1994. Under this legislation, harsher punishments are given to defendants with prior felony convictions known as “strikes.”

 

What happens after your second strike?

As stipulated by the California Three Strikes Law, if a defendant is convicted of a new felony after having already suffered a prior strike conviction, they will be sentenced to twice the standard penalty for that crime. In addition, they will be statutorily ineligible for probation, and may be required to serve up to 80-85% of their sentence, as opposed to the usual 50% percent with good behavior, depending on the severity of the new offense

 

What happens after your third strike?

If a defendant is convicted of a serious or violent felony for a third time, the punishments only worsen. For third strike offenders, the state mandates a sentence of 25 years to life. In addition, they are ineligible for probation, and must complete their entire sentence unless they qualify for early nonviolent parole under Prop 57. See In re Edwards (2018) 26 Cal.App.5th 1181,

 

What crimes fall under the Three Strikes Law?

Since its enactment in the 1990’s, there have been some amendments to the legislation. The passage of Proposition 36 in 2012 has redefined which types of cases apply to the Three Strikes Law. Under Proposition 36, to receive a third strike, the defendant must have committed a “serious or violent felony.”

 

Prior to the 2012 reforms, any felony, no matter how minor, might have triggered a third strike. Now, however, only major felony crimes like rape are punishable under the Three Strikes Law. Below is a list of other crimes that still qualify as third strikes underthe new legislation.

 

Examples of “violent” felonies:

  • Murder or voluntary manslaughter,
  • Oral copulation or sodomy by force,
  • Arson,
  • Kidnapping,
  • Carjacking,
  • Assault with a deadly weapon, and
  • Any felony involving a firearm

 

Examples of “serious” felonies:

  • First-degree burglary,
  • Robbery,
  • Grand theft involving a firearm, and
  • Sale of cocaine, heroin, PCP or methamphetamine to a minor

 

Can courts remove strikes?

In certain cases, courts may choose to dismiss prior strikes. Once a defendant files what is called a Romero Motion, the judge assesses the circumstances of the case to determine if a dismissal is appropriate. When doing so, they look at the type of crime, how long ago the prior strikes happened, and the defendant’s criminal history.

 

Can a defendant appeal a Three Strikes sentence?

The recent revisions to the Three Strikes Law under Proposition 36 give those who were convicted of crimes no longer included in the legislation the chance to appeal their sentences. If their appeal is successful, the defendant may have a chance at an early or immediate release.

 

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