Since 1994, California has had a “Three Strikes” law regarding sentencing for repeat felony offenders. Under this
law, individuals who are convicted of violent or otherwise serious felony
crimes are issued a mark on their record known as a “strike.”
In the event that a person should be convicted of a subsequent felony
conviction, violent or not, this strike will cause them to face dramatically
harsher penalties. Just like in baseball, three strikes and you’re out.
A third strike for a violent felony conviction will bring a mandatory minimum
sentence of 25 years to life in prison without eligibility for parole.
This is not to say that a second strike is any less serious. Being convicted
of a second strike can cause a person to face double the penalty for their
new offense and require them to serve at least 80 percent of their sentence
before being eligible for early release.
What is a “Serious” or “Violent” Felony?
A number of different offenses can result in a person receiving a strike
on their record. All of these offenses either involve inflicting serious
injury to another person, using or threatening to use a weapon, gang enhancement,
or are sexual in nature.
A wide range of offenses can all result in a strike, including:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Unlawful discharge of a firearm
It is possible for a person to be charged and convicted of multiple strikes
in the same trial. For example, if a person were to threaten a person
with a handgun only to then commit a subsequent carjacking, they could
be charged with two separate strike offenses – even though they
were part of the same incident.
The Impact of Prop 36 on Three Strikes Sentencing
While previously a third striker would face a life sentence for
any third felony conviction, the passing of Proposition 36 in 2012 changed
this to require a third strike to be a violent felony. This eliminated
situations in which a person convicted of third strike shoplifting could
receive a harsher sentence than a person convicted of murder. This legislation
also made approximately 3,000 third strikers who were at the time serving
life sentences eligible to have their sentences reduced.
Still, even if a third felony is not considered violent or serious by the
courts, it will still bring an enhanced sentence. As it stands, no three
strike inmates in California have been paroled, with the first of these
inmates being eligible in 2019.
Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyers in Fairfield
If you are facing a strike on your record or already have a strike and
are facing a subsequent felony charge, it is imperative you retain powerful
legal counsel as soon as possible to protect your freedom. At The Maher
Law Group, APC, our knowledgeable
Fairfield criminal defense attorneys can provide the passionate advocacy you need to maximize your chances
of securing a favorable outcome for your situation.
To find out more about what our award-winning attorneys can do for you,
call (888) 744-3057 or
schedule a free consultation today to review your legal options.