What is California’s ‘three strikes’ law?
California residents facing a felony charge may have heard of the state’s so-called three strikes law and wonder how or if it could affect them. The three strikes law was initially enacted in 1994. Under the original law, a person convicted of a felony would have their prison sentence doubled if they had already been convicted of at least one other prior felony.
Additionally, a person with two prior felonies on their record who was convicted of a new felony would automatically be sentenced to a prison term of 25 years to life. Hence, the “third strike” meant at least 25 years in prison.
In 2012, the three strikes law was modified and included some significant changes. Under the new version of the law, a person convicted of a third felony would not be subject to the mandatory 25 years to life state prison term unless the third felony was a serious or violent felony.
The changes also specified that California residents currently serving a prison sentence of 25 years to life because of the prior three strikes law could petition the court for a reduction of their sentence if their third felony was not classified as a serious or violent felony and therefore, they would not have received the mandatory minimum prison sentence under the new law.
A felony charge carries serious consequences, and the penalties can be high for even first-time offenders. In addition to jail time, a felony conviction often impacts many areas of an individual’s life, affecting future employment prospects, hindering relationships with friends or family members and causing financial difficulties due to major fines or penalties.
The different aspects of the three strikes law can be confusing or complex. If you are facing a felony charge and have prior felony convictions, you may have questions about how the three strikes law could affect your case. An experienced criminal attorney can help protect your rights and help with getting a reduced or even dismissed charge.