What is California’s Three Strikes Law

Posted on June 8, 2016

California’s three strikes law is a harsh sentencing law that was enacted in the 90’s to punish offenders that continually commit serious and violent crimes. Any offenders convicted of serious and violent felonies three times will face 25-years to life in prison. While the law was created with the good intentions to keep violent people off the streets, the law can be very unfair at times. Being sentenced for a third strike typically leaves the offender in prison for the remainder of their life with little rehabilitation and hope.

Flaws in California’s Three Strikes Law

california three strikes lawThe law was created to stop violent offenders from committing other violent crimes, but data still isn’t clear on whether the law has even reduced crime rates. The law also has several other flaws:

  • It operates in a way that violates the Eighth Amendment constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.
  • It had disproportionately impacted minority defendants.
  • It has caused overcrowding in the California prison system.
  • Taxpayers are paying for for the cost of caring for aging offenders who pose no threat to society.
  • It doesn’t provide room for rehabilitation.

Prior convictions that count as strikes in California’s Three Strikes Law

Serious or violent felonies
Serious of violent felonies can range from murder and rape to inflicting bodily injury, using a firearm and any violent gang activity.

Juvenile sustain petitions
Juvenile convictions can count as a strike if it is a serious and dangerous felony, and if the person was at least 16 years of age when convicted.

Multiple strikes can be given in one trial
Single qualifying strikes do not need to be brought to trial separately. If two offenses are brought and tried tether, that person will get two strikes.

Sentencing in the third strike

If the defendant’s third offense falls under what is considered a strike, the defendant will automatically be sentenced to 25-years to life in prison. If the third offense is not considered a strike, the defendant will still receive an enhanced sentence, but it will not be as harsh as 25-years to life.


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