A simple shoplifting case turned into a 47-to-life prison sentence for a man convicted of stealing various items from a home improvement store. According to the Santa Monica Observer, the reason for such a severe sentence was a combination of the man’s prior criminal history and application California’s “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law: The shoplifting conviction was his third “strike,” after previous cases involving manslaughter and second-degree robbery. If you’re facing criminal charges that might result in your third strike, here are some answers to your questions about the sentencing law.
What is California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law?
State law requires that a person with a past criminal history be sentenced under the “three strikes” rule when convicted of a new felony. However, not all prior crimes are considered strikes and the most recent crime may not trigger the law. Under existing law:
· A third strike offender faces 25 years to life in prison;
· The new felony must be a serious or violent felony; and,
· There must be to or more prior strikes to qualify for the imprisonment term of 25 year to life.
The rationale behind the three strikes law is that tougher sentencing would reduce the amount of recidivism, a term used to describe repeat criminal offenders. Other proponents claim that it serves the public good for repeat offenders to be off the streets for 25 or more years. It’s important to note that the three strikes rule impacts sentencing: The law only applies at the sentencing phase of a criminal trial and is not a factor in determining guilt.
What is a “serious or violent” crime under the law?
A crime that might trigger the three strikes law must qualify as serious or violent for the 25 years to life sentence to apply. Felonies that may lead to a three-strikes sentence include:
· Sex crimes;
· Certain theft crimes; and
· Any offense punishable by 10 years or more which includes an element of violence, a threat of violence or a potential risk of violence.
How can I fight a California Three Strikes sentence?
There are ways to argue against a sentence under the three strikes law. Certain felonies are not included as serious and/or violent, so the rule would not apply. You could successfully argue that the previous crimes didn’t rise to the level that triggers the three strikes rule; however, without arguments to contradict the prior convictions, you may be subject to the prosecutor’s or judge’s discretion.
In some cases, it’s possible to petition for a reduction of the sentence term to relate back to the second strike, but the procedure can be complicated.
California Three Strikes Law in San Diego
Ozols Law Firm has dealt with a lot of cases in San Diego where the District Attorney has alleged prior strikes from other states. This can be quite common depending the office and the area the crime occurred. The theory behind it is that even if the crime was not a strike in the other state, or if the state it was committed in did not have strikes, the crime could be a strike in California. This would be done by proving that the elements of the crime that was committed in another state match the elements of what a strike would be in California.
California’s Three Strikes and You’re Out law can result in a severe sentence if you have a criminal background, up to life in prison in certain cases. There are strategies for fighting a Three Strikes sentence, but you’ll need an attorney with an extensive background in criminal law to help you present your arguments. If you’re facing a third strike charge, please contact a hard working criminal defense lawyer in San Diego who can protect your rights under California law.
Ozols Law Firm
8880 Rio San Diego Dr. #22
San Diego, CA,