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Three Strikes Law

THREE STRIKES LAW HISTORY

In 1994 California enacted what is now known as the "Three Strikes" Law. This law (667e PC) created several distinct mandatory sentencing guidelines where the prosecution pleads and proves serious or violent felony priors. Under the original law, any felony conviction, where there were two serious or violent felony convictions proven, required a mandatory 25 years-to-life sentence. This resulted in thousands of people with distant qualifying priors being sentenced to 25-to-life for "simple" felonies such as drug possession and theft.

Fortunately, California lawmakers realized how draconian this sentencing scheme was, and in 2012 they passed Proposition 36 which limited the application of the Three Strikes law in two major ways:

1.  The new felony upon which sentencing is applied must be serious or violent itself (and at least one prior must be serious/violent) to qualify for 25-life; and

2.  Those serving 25-life terms who were not sentenced on a serous/violent felony could then apply for re-sentencing under the change in the law.

So What Is a Strike in California Now?

Prop 36 Still affords a life sentence (25-life) for murderers, rapists and child molesters ("super-strikes"), but for all other strike allegations, a life sentence is only mandated where the underlying offense is serious or violent, and there is a serious or violent conviction plead and proved. A serious felony is defined under the California Penal Code (1192.7 PC) as follows:

(1) Murder or voluntary manslaughter; (2) mayhem; (3) rape; (4) sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, threat of great bodily injury, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person; (5) oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, threat of great bodily injury, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person; (6) lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 years of age; (7) any felony punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison for life; (8) any felony in which the defendant personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person, other than an accomplice, or any felony in which the defendant personally uses a firearm; (9) attempted murder; (10) assault with intent to commit rape or robbery; (11) assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer; (12) assault by a life prisoner on a noninmate; (13) assault with a deadly weapon by an inmate; (14) arson; (15) exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to injure; (16) exploding a destructive device or any explosive causing bodily injury, great bodily injury, or mayhem; (17) exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to murder; (18) any burglary of the first degree; (19) robbery or bank robbery; (20) kidnapping; (21) holding of a hostage by a person confined in a state prison; (22) attempt to commit a felony punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison for life; (23) any felony in which the defendant personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon; (24) selling, furnishing, administering, giving, or offering to sell, furnish, administer, or give to a minor any heroin, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), or any methamphetamine-related drug, as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) of Section 11055 of the Health and Safety Code, or any of the precursors of methamphetamines, as described in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11055 or subdivision (a) of Section 11100 of the Health and Safety Code; (25) any violation of subdivision (a) of Section 289 where the act is accomplished against the victim's will by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person; (26) grand theft involving a firearm; (27) carjacking; (28) any felony offense, which would also constitute a felony violation of Section 186.22; (29) assault with the intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, or oral copulation, in violation of Section 220; (30) throwing acid or flammable substances, in violation of Section 244; (31) assault with a deadly weapon, firearm, machinegun, assault weapon, or semiautomatic firearm or assault on a peace officer or firefighter, in violation of Section 245; (32) assault with a deadly weapon against a public transit employee, custodial officer, or school employee, in violation of Section 245.2, 245.3, or 245.5; (33) discharge of a firearm at an inhabited dwelling, vehicle, or aircraft, in violation of Section 246; (34) commission of rape or sexual penetration in concert with another person, in violation of Section 264.1; (35) continuous sexual abuse of a child, in violation of Section 288.5; (36) shooting from a vehicle, in violation of subdivision (c) or (d) of Section 26100; (37) intimidation of victims or witnesses, in violation of Section 136.1; (38) criminal threats, in violation of Section 422; (39) any attempt to commit a crime listed in this subdivision other than an assault; (40) any violation of Section 12022.53; (41) a violation of subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 11418; and (42) any conspiracy to commit an offense described in this subdivision.

What is a "Violent Crime"?

The California legislature defines a violent crime in Penal Code Section 667.5:

(c) For the purpose of this section, “violent felony” shall mean any of the following:

(1) Murder or voluntary manslaughter.

(2) Mayhem.

(3) Rape as defined in paragraph (2) or (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 261 or paragraph (1) or (4) of subdivision (a) of Section 262.

(4) Sodomy as defined in subdivision (c) or (d) of Section 286.

(5) Oral copulation as defined in subdivision (c) or (d) of Section 287 or of former Section 288a.

(6) Lewd or lascivious act as defined in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 288.

(7) Any felony punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison for life.

(8) Any felony in which the defendant inflicts great bodily injury on any person other than an accomplice which has been charged and proved as provided for in Section 12022.7, 12022.8, or 12022.9 on or after July 1, 1977, or as specified prior to July 1, 1977, in Sections 213, 264, and 461, or any felony in which the defendant uses a firearm which use has been charged and proved as provided in subdivision (a) of Section 12022.3, or Section 12022.5 or 12022.55.

(9) Any robbery.

(10) Arson, in violation of subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 451.

(11) Sexual penetration as defined in subdivision (a) or (j) of Section 289.

(12) Attempted murder.

(13) A violation of Section 18745, 18750, or 18755.

(14) Kidnapping.

(15) Assault with the intent to commit a specified felony, in violation of Section 220.

(16) Continuous sexual abuse of a child, in violation of Section 288.5.

(17) Carjacking, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 215.

(18) Rape, spousal rape, or sexual penetration, in concert, in violation of Section 264.1.

(19) Extortion, as defined in Section 518, which would constitute a felony violation of Section 186.22.

(20) Threats to victims or witnesses, as defined in Section 136.1, which would constitute a felony violation of Section 186.22.

(21) Any burglary of the first degree, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 460, wherein it is charged and proved that another person, other than an accomplice, was present in the residence during the commission of the burglary.

(22) Any violation of Section 12022.53.

(23) A violation of subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 11418. The Legislature finds and declares that these specified crimes merit special consideration when imposing a sentence to display society's condemnation for these extraordinary crimes of violence against the person.

How Does The Three Strikes Law Work?

Since Three Strikes is a sentencing statute that creates mandatory enhancements for prior convictions, a first-offense serious or violent offense may have other sentencing consequences, but  Three Strikes will not affect the original sentencing. This means someone convicted of a serious or violent felony "could" be sentenced to probation (there are many limitations to this, such as 1203.3), at the original sentencing.  However, a person with a prior strike felony facing sentencing on a new, separate felony is subject to the Three Strikes Law.

A person sentenced to a Serious felony is presumptively ineligible for probation and will be required to serve 80% of their prison sentence.

A person sentenced to a violent felony with a Strike Prior must serve 85% of their prison sentence.  These credits do not accrue until the person physically arrives in prison.

California's sentencing law can be quite complex and under-estimating the value of an experienced attorney can cost you or a loved one many years in prison.  If facing a Serious or Violent felony, or a "Three Strikes allegation", I strongly urge you to call me today.  I can help.

“I can make the difference between jail and freedom.” 760-643-4025

 

 

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