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California’s Three Strikes Law: What It Is and How a Criminal Lawyer Can Create a Defense or Appeal

California’s three strikes law is a strict sentencing policy designed to deter repeat offenders. The law mandates severe penalties for individuals convicted of multiple violent or serious felonies. A third strike under the three strikes law could result in a life sentence. If you're facing a crime that could qualify as a strike in Los Angeles, a criminal lawyer from Kroger Law Group can create a defense or appeal to improve your sentence.

Understanding the Three Strikes Law

The three strikes law can lead to harsher punishments and more time spent in prison for repeat offenders. The law is defined under Penal Code Section 667. In general, the strike system looks like this:

First strike: The first serious felony conviction does not carry any specific enhancements. The offender serves the standard sentence for the crime.

Second strike: If a California court convicts an individual with a prior strike of another serious felony, they will double their sentence. They will also not be eligible for probation and may have to serve 80% of their sentence before getting out.

Third strike: If a court convicts an individual with two prior strike convictions with a third serious felony, they face a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison. 

Crimes That Can Result in a Strike Under the Three Strike Law

To get a strike, you must be convicted of either a serious or violent felony. Violent felonies include murder, rape, kidnapping, carjacking, and extortion. Serious felonies include robbery, first-degree burglary, grand theft auto when a firearm is involved, and selling methamphetamine, cocaine, PCP, or heroin to a minor. It is possible to receive more than one strike in one court proceeding if the defendant committed more than one of these crimes.

Implications of the Three Strikes Law

There are many negative implications of the three strikes law. Offenders on their second strike can experience stricter consequences and even worse sentencing on the third strike. Some of the adverse effects of the Three Strikes Law include:

Harsh Sentencing

Sentencing for second and third-strike convictions is harsher than the regular sentencing for the crime. Even after passing Proposition 36, offenders can potentially spend the rest of their lives in prison after receiving a third strike.

Limited Options for Parole

Third-strike offenders may face limited parole opportunities. This can make it difficult to secure a release even after serving a significant portion of their sentence.

Encourages Imprisonment over Rehabilitation

The Kroger Law Group believes in rehabilitation over unnecessarily harsh punishment. The three strikes law may encourage imprisonment rather than rehabilitation – making it more difficult for convicts to take advantage of resources that could help them improve.

Prison Overcrowding

The three strikes law can lead to more prisoners serving more time. This takes up valuable space in California prisons and may lead to increased prison costs.

Legal Defenses for Charges Involving the Three Strikes Law

You should call a criminal lawyer immediately after being arrested for a felony in Los Angeles. Your lawyer can help create a legal defense, and in some cases, they may be able to file an appeal. Here are some ways that your lawyer can help you if you are facing a three strikes law conviction:

  • Winning your current case. If your lawyer wins your current case, the strike won’t apply.
  • Reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. The three strikes law only applies to felony cases so that a misdemeanor wouldn’t count as a strike. Your lawyer may be able to reduce your sentence by demonstrating your remorse or proving that the sentence is too harsh.
  • Filing a Romero motion to strike one or both of your previous strikes. Some judges may be open to removing one of your previous strikes, especially if constitutional violations are associated with those convictions. They may also be willing to remove a strike if they feel that your current crime doesn’t warrant the enhancements that would be added to your sentence. Removing a prior strike can make your current conviction count as a first or second strike instead of a second or third.

Options for Appealing a Three Strikes Sentence

Many inmates were able to appeal their sentences after the passing of Proposition 36 in 2012. This proposition made it so that the third strike would only apply to serious felonies. After appealing their sentences, many inmates were released early or immediately. 

If you are convicted of another felony charge that results in a strike, your lawyer may be able to file an appeal for your case. Whether this is an option will depend on your individual circumstances. There can be many reasons and justifications for an appeal, including errors in jury instructions or constitutional violations during the trial. Circumstances like this can offer a chance to overturn or reduce your sentence.

Contact a Criminal Lawyer from Kroger Law Group

California’s Three Strikes Law can lead to harsh sentences for individuals facing multiple felony convictions. Under the law, three strikes carry a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison. A criminal lawyer from Kroger Law Group can help create an effective defense strategy or appeal your case. They can beat your case, fight to reduce your sentence or challenge prior strikes on your behalf. Contact us today if you have been arrested and are facing a strike in Los Angeles, California. Our lawyers have experience with the three strikes law and can help you receive a fair chance at justice.

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