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The Three Strikes Law in California has been in place since 1994. Under the law, defendants convicted of certain felony offenses are given strikes. Future convictions for a felony are then treated as additional strikes, with each resulting in harsher penalties. After the law was enacted in the 1990s, any felony counted as a strike on a defendant’s record, even when the offense was fairly minor. 


After voters brought in Proposition 36 in 2012, only certain defendants can receive a strike. Defendants can only incur a strike when they have either committed a serious felony, or a violent felony. As the law shows, there are differences between the two. Violent felonies are usually those that include force, while the same cannot always be said about serious felonies.

Unfortunately, the law is not always so straightforward. A person may face incurring a strike under certain circumstances. These situations include when a defendant:

  • Commits a serious or violent felony offense that, by definition, qualifies as a strike under the law
  • Violent felony offenses may include murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, and kidnapping
  • Serious felony offenses include those that are not violent, but still major offenses, such as robbery or selling drugs to a minor
  • Attempts to commit a serious or violent felony that qualifies as a strike, even if the defendant was not successful in committing the crime
  • Crimes in which the manner of the defendant qualifies as a strike, such as hitting a victim and causing them seriously bodily injury

The above offenses are serious and can result in extremely harsh penalties, particularly for those with a strike already on their record. A solid defense is necessary to avoid those penalties so any time you are facing charges, speak to a criminal defense lawyer. Without a solid defense, defendants have fewer options when it comes to sentencing and time served with good behavior.

Defendants convicted of a third felony offense face the most serious consequences. The minimum sentence a person will face is 25 years in prison, but that can extend to life in prison. These individuals must typically serve their entire sentence, unless they qualify for early parole under Prop 57.

  • Defendants convicted of another felony after already having a felony conviction on their record are sentenced to double the penalties usually associated with the offense. 
  • Defendants may also have to serve a minimum of 80 to 85% of their sentence, unlike the typical 50% people must serve for a first offense before good behavior is considered. 
  • Defendants that are given a second or third strike are also not eligible for probation or parole, which will also impact any early release that otherwise would have been possible.

In specific cases, a court may dismiss previous strikes. After receiving the motion, the judge will assess the circumstances of a case and determine if dismissing the strikes is appropriate.

If you have been charged with

A violent crime, call 805-477-0070 now.

We can provide you with a free case review.

If you have been charged with a crime, our Ventura criminal defense lawyer at Strongest Defense can advise you of the law and prepare a solid defense for your case. Our strong defense strategies will help you beat the charges, and avoid the strict penalties outlined in the three strike law of the state. We can also argue to have previous strikes stricken. Call us today at 805-477-0070 to schedule a free case review with one of our seasoned attorneys.

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