Three Strikes

Overview of California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law

In 1994, California imposed a radical new set of sentencing regulations that called for incredibly harsh penalties for individuals who were  convicted of multiple crimes. The primary goal of California’s Three  Strikes law is to deter individuals from committing crimes. However, the  sentencing provision has mostly been responsible for unjustly  sentencing criminal defendants to harsh criminal penalties for minor  offenses.

As a result, California has taken steps to mitigate the negative  consequences of the sentencing provision. However, California’s Three Strike still poses a serious threat to criminal defendants who have a prior felony conviction.


California Three Strikes Sentencing Guidelines

Under California’s Three Strikes law, criminal defendants who have been  previously convicted of a “serious felony” face increased criminal  consequences for future crimes. The sentencing guidelines work like this:

Strike One

f you are convicted of a serious felony you will have one “strike” on  your criminal record. The criminal sentence for this first felony  conviction will not be affected by the Three Strikes Law.

Strike Two

When you are convicted of a second serious felony you will be sentenced  to twice the amount of time in prison that is provided for that crime.  So, if you have one strike on your record and are subsequently convicted  of any second felony, the amount of time you will have to serve in  prison will double. This second conviction will also add a second  “strike” to your criminal record.

Strike Three

When you are convicted of any third felony you will automatically be  sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. This mandatory sentence is  imposed regardless of the penalties that are generally applicable for  the most recent felony offense.

It is important to understand that, under the terms of the original  law, only the first strike had to be a serious felony. Any subsequent  felony convictions – regardless of the seriousness of the crime – would  subject you to heightened criminal penalties.

What is a Serious Felony?


In order to get a strike on your record you must be convicted of a  serious felony. California state law provides a lengthy description of  the crimes that must be considered a “serious felony” for the purposes  of the Three Strikes sentencing guidelines. Serious felonies in  California, as defined in California Penal Code Section 1192.7 PC include, but are not limited to:


Any Felony Punishable By Life In Prison Or Death

Any Felony Involving A Firearm Causing Great Bodily Injury/Death

Assault With A Deadly Weapon On A Peace Officer

Certain theft crimes

Exploding A Destructive Device Causing Great Bodily Injury/Mayhem/Death

Forcible Sodomy Or Oral Copulation


Lewd Or Lascivious Acts On A Child Under 14

Murder, Attempted Murder or Voluntary Manslaughter


Contact Us Today!

California’s Three Strikes Law increases the chances that repeat  criminal offenders will spend a great deal of time behind bars. If you  have a strike on your record, or have been charged with a crime that  will put a strike on your record, it is important to speak with an  experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney.

At the Law Offices of William R. Burgener, APC, we have an incredibly in-depth understanding of California’s criminal laws  and undersant just how serious a strike can be. Mr. Burgener will use his experience,  insight, and passion to get the best possible outcome in your criminal  case.