One of the most controversial criminal statutes in the last 25 years in California is the three-strikes sentencing statute, California Penal Code § 667. Under this law, anyone with a past criminal record, which includes violent or serious felonies as defined by California law, may receive a prison sentence of 25 years to life for conviction of a third felony offense.
For those who already have two strikes, it is plain to see that incurring one more strike will seriously inhibit the individual’s freedom for a significant portion of his or her life. There is no time limitation on prior strikes. Once incurred, their potential effect on any sentencing for future offenses is limitless.
California defendants are not subject to multiple strikes within the same case. If a defendant is charged with multiple counts that count as strikes in one case, he or she may not receive double time for the second count because the first count was an offense that counted as a strike. However, if a defendant is convicted of two counts that are both strikes, they both count as strikes, which means any future felony charge may result in a possible third strike.
The two strikes provision in § 667 (e)(1) provides that a defendant who commits a felony with one “strike” prior must be sentenced to twice the base term of the current felony. Individuals with two strikes should obviously exercise their best judgment and refrain from committing any crimes. However, mistakes happen, if anyone with one or two strikes is charged with a crime that would count as a strike, it may be possible to plead to a reduced charge that is a non-strikeable offense.
Also, a strike may be expunged in California. Prosecuting attorneys in a case involving an offender who has a criminal record containing serious and violent felonies may move a court to dismiss or strike a prior serious or violent felony conviction allegation in the furtherance of justice. California judges, even have the authority, without the impetus of the prosecution, to determine if a prior offense qualifies as a strike.
However, when a strike is dismissed or “expunged,” the felony conviction is not erased completely from the defendant’s criminal record. Rather, the applicable “strike” felony is dismissed for the purpose of applying any sentencing enhancements to the defendant’s current sentence.
The Dolan Law Firm’s experienced attorneys always consider whether the filing of a Romero motion requesting a trial judge to strike one or more of our client’s past strike allegations is appropriate. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.