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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.