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What is California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law?


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California’s Penal Code Section 667 PC outlines the three-strikes law in the state. Under this law, criminal defendants face a 25-year prison sentence if they are convicted of three or more serious or violent felonies. Additionally, the law also doubles the prison sentence for defendants convicted of any crime classified as a felony under California law if they have two prior convictions for a serious or violent felony. Prison sentences are also doubled for ‘second strikers,’ or those convicted of a second serious or violent offense.


How the Law Works for Three Strikes


The three strikes law in California places mandatory sentences on defendants who have committed a felony and have prior ‘strikes,’ or convictions on their records. Defendants are considered third-strikers if they:

  • Have two previous convictions for violent or serious felonies, and they
  • Are currently charged with another violent or serious felony

When the above two situations apply, defendants face a 25-year prison sentence for the charge they are currently facing. If a defendant has two strikes and the third charge does not qualify as a strike, the sentence is doubled for the current charge if the person is convicted. However, there are times when a defendant can face the mandatory 25 years even when the third charge does not qualify as a strike. This can occur if:

  • The third conviction is related to a drug offense that involves a certain amount of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar controlled substances,
  • The third conviction is a sex crime and classified as a felony, requiring the defendant to register as a sex offender,
  • The defendant was armed with a deadly weapon or firearm or used one during the commission of the third offense,
  • The defendant had the intent to cause serious bodily injury during the commission of the offense, or
  • One of the previous strikes is considered a particularly serious offense, such as murder or manslaughter.

How the Law Works for Two Strikes


While it may be known as the three strikes law in California, the law also outlines provisions for second strikes, as well. Defendants who have one strike on their record will face harsher penalties if they commit any California felony, even if the offense is not normally considered a strike. In these situations, the sentence for a defendant convicted of a second felony charge will receive double the maximum sentence for that offense.


Custody Credits Under the Three Strikes Law


Inmates in California prisons can typically receive custody credits for the time they have served with good behavior. Usually, individuals must only serve 50% of their sentence before they are eligible for early release. Under the three strikes law, though, defendants must serve 80 percent of their sentence before they are eligible for early release. Individuals convicted of violent felonies must serve 85% of their sentence.


Our Violent Crimes Lawyers in Ventura Can Help You Beat Your Charges


Clearly, the consequences for a second or third strike are much harsher than those for a first offense. If you have been charged, our Ventura violent crimes lawyers at Strongest Defense can prepare the strong defense you need to shield you from harsh penalties. Call us now at (805) 477-0070 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help.