Criminal law attorney

California’s Three Strikes Law

Although the Three Strikes law in California may seem harsh in some cases, it was enacted in 1994 to deter repeat crimes (mainly felonies). Also known as the habitual offender law, the three strikes go into effect after an individual already convicted of two serious felonious strikes commits another, resulting in mandatory sentencing at a state prison for 25 years to life with little chance of parole. Although most of us may wonder why it would take as long as three strikes, the law is meant to reduce recidivism in serious offenders.

The ‘three strikes and you are out’ concept may be derived from a famous sports analogy, but this is a very serious legal situation to find yourself in if you’ve previously committed two felonies and are charged with another. The Three Strikes law was amended further in 2012 with two primary provisions:

  1. “The requirements for sentencing a defendant as a third strike offender were changed to 25 years to life by requiring the new felony to be a serious or violent felonywith two or more prior strikes to qualify for the 25 year-to-life sentence as a third strike offender; and
  2. The addition of a means by which designated defendants currently servinga third strike sentence may petition the court for reduction of their term to a second strike sentence if they would have been eligible for second strike sentencing under the new law.”

The initial serious felonies putting this type of law (and resulting consequences) into effect for an individual being sentenced include the following:

  • Aggravated robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual abuse
  • Rape

There has been a recent push in California to allow thousands of prisoners to be eligible for parole despite having been convicted of a third strike—often one that may have been completely non-violent and almost seemingly trivial in many cases, from taking a small item to stealing a bike. The law is considered controversial and stringent by many, although currently 28 other states besides California have instituted similar laws. If you have been charged, you need skilled legal advice as the rest of your years could be riding on a positive outcome in court.

If you need legal assistance with a criminal matter, please call the Dolan Law Offices now. We will listen carefully to your concerns, review your case, and offer advice based on many years of experience. John Patrick Dolan understands California’s complex criminal defense laws including drug charges, white collar crimes, DUI, domestic violence, sexual assault charges, and violent & serious felonies. At the Dolan Law Offices, we provide the experience you need to help you fight for your rights and best interests. Call us at (760) 775-3739 or contact us online as soon as possible.