California is one of dozens of states that have a third strike sentencing law. The law, which was enacted in the early ‘90s, presumes that repeat offenders are more likely to commit a crime in the future. As such, it imposes harsher penalties for each subsequent conviction. If you are facing third strike charges, contact a criminal defense lawyer.
The penalties outlined in the three strikes law are mandatory, which means a judge must issue a certain sentence. Still, for those facing third strike charges, it is possible to lessen the amount of time served during sentencing. This is another reason it is important to craft a solid defense not only for the initial charges, but for sentencing hearings, as well.
Not every criminal offense is considered a third strike. Only felonies that are considered serious or violent are eligible for a strike. Even then, the following circumstances must apply for a defendant to face third strike charges:
- A defendant must have two previous convictions on their record for serious or violent felonies.
- The defendant must currently be facing charges for an additional serious or violent felony charge.
- When both of the above are true, the minimum mandatory sentence if the defendant is convicted is 25 years in prison.
- The maximum mandatory sentence if the defendant is convicted is life in prison. In any sentencing option, defendants must serve at least 80% of their time.
- Defendants not facing charges for a serious or violent felony do not qualify for a third strike. If they have two strikes, their sentence will double.
For example, a defendant may have been convicted for robbery and residential burglary, both of which are “strike” offenses. If the same defendant is arrested for drug possession, they will face felony charges, but it is not a serious or violent felony. The defendant may be considered a third striker, but they will not be sentenced to 25 to years to life. Instead, they will face double the sentence for possession of a controlled substance.
The law seems to protect defendants from harsh penalties for a third offense. Still, there are times when someone may face between 25 years and life in prison if their third offense is not a violent or serious felony. These situations include when:
- The third conviction is for a felony sex crime or requires the defendant to register on the sex offender registration, unless the offense falls into one of the limited exceptions,
- The third conviction was for a drug crime involving a significant amount of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, or another related controlled substance,
- The defendant used a fireman in the commission of the crime, was armed with a deadly weapon, or intended to inflict great bodily harm during the crime
Any time a defendant is convicted of a crime on a shortlist of serious offenses, they may face third strike charges. These offenses include murder and sexually violent offenses.
If you have been charged with
Your third strike, call (805) 947-5443 now.
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If you are facing serious or violent felony charges, you need the help of a Ventura criminal defense lawyer. At Strongest Defense, our skilled attorneys can help you build a solid defense that will give you the best chance of beating the charges. We also have the necessary experience to present arguments showing a third strike is inappropriate, so you avoid the harshest penalties available under the law. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a free case review.