My California Defense Lawyer .com Discusses California's 3 Strikes Law

Top Quote Although enacted with the best intentions, California's 3 Strikes Law is met with controversy. End Quote
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA (1888PressRelease) September 23, 2010 - Legislatures and law enforcement agencies are always looking for ways to reduce the number of individuals who commit crimes. One way in which the state of California has attempted to deter criminals from committing crimes is by implementing "three strikes" laws. A law that just like in baseball sticks by the motto: three strikes and you're out.

    In the California judicial system, a three strike case is when someone is convicted 3 times of a serious criminal offense. On the third time they are convicted of a serious crime, the judge is required to give them a mandatory sentence of an extended period of time being incarcerated, usually 25 year to life. The judicial officials usually consider the three strike cases to be habitual offenders of the law.

    Even first time felony offenders still face serious penalties under California law. Felony convictions typically carry a sentence of more than a year in prison. And second time felony offense charges actually face increased penalties under the "three" strikes law. If you are convicted of a "second strike" with a previous serious or violent felony conviction on your record, you are looking at double sentencing. For third strike cases, judicial discretion is all but eliminated. Regardless of extenuating circumstances, or how old the previous offenses may be, you are faced with a prison sentence of 25 years to life.

    While California and other states that have enacted this legislation have done so with the best intentions, there is considerable controversy and serious questions whether the statues achieve their goal. Many argue that the 3 strikes law is cruel and punitive, and it is often unfairly applied when a person years later commits a minor crime and faces 25 or more years in prison.

    There was a recent case where a homeless California man was arrested for the third time for trying to break into a church that he frequented and was welcomed in by the parish priest. Even with the priest's testimony that the man was welcome in the church and did no wrong, because of his two prior felony convictions - snatching a purse, and an unarmed, unsuccessful attempt to rob a man on the street the man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for his third strike.

    Fortunately for the California man, a group of Stanford law students was able to petition his case, and have his 3rd strike reversed. As a result, the local LA county current policy calls for prosecutor discretion not to seek life sentences unless the "third strike" involves a violent or serious crime. Discretion is needed in the judicial system to avoid future errors such as this one.

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