California’s three-strikes sentencing statute can cause individuals who have committed past strike offenses, which are violent or serious felonies, to receive a prison sentence of 25 years to life for conviction of a third felony offense. Three-strikes law also doubles the prison sentence for defendants convicted of any California felony who have two violent or serious felony prior offenses on their record. This can cause excessively harsh results. Therefore, a relevant and important question for anyone with one or two strikes is whether a strike can be removed or expunged.
Many consider California’s three-strikes statute to be the result of a harsh public response to its perception that crime was rampant on the streets of California in the 1990s. After the Rodney King and O.J. Simpson cases, it could be said that even California’s celebrities and police officers, let alone real criminals, were public threats. In 2012, California voters approved Proposition 36 which substantially amended the three-strikes law by requiring the defendant’s new felony to be a serious or violent felony for him to qualify for the 25 years-to-life sentence as a third strike offender.
The California Supreme Court’s holding in People v. Romero is the reason that California defendants have hope when injustice may loom because the punishment may not fit the crime. As an example of the law’s potential severity, Romero was charged with possession of a minuscule amount of narcotics, which would have resulted in a prison sentence of up to three years. Instead, he faced a life sentence in prison because he had charges of burglary and attempted burglary – strikes one and two – on his criminal record.
Yet, as the judge did in People v. Romero, California judges may “strike” past strike allegations and sentence the defendant to less jail or prison time if it is in furtherance of justice. Thus, a strike may be expunged in California.
However, when a judge dismisses a strike, the felony conviction is not erased completely from the defendant’s criminal record. Instead, the applicable “strike” felony is dismissed for the purpose of determining the defendant’s sentence for the current conviction.
For over forty years, the Dolan Law Offices have provided Californians with post-conviction services that clear their criminal record to further solidify their future as productive, law-abiding members of the Coachella Valley community. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.