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California’s three strikes law in violent crime cases

May 17, 2024 | Violent Crimes

California’s three strikes law significantly impacts individuals charged with violent crimes. Understanding this law is crucial for anyone facing serious criminal charges in the state.

What is the three strikes law?

The three strikes law imposes severe penalties on repeat offenders, particularly for violent and serious felonies:

  • First strike: A conviction for a serious or violent felony counts as the first strike.
  • Second strike: In the case of a second conviction of a violent felony, the court will double the sentence.
  • Third strike: A third felony conviction results in a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

When does the law apply?

The three strikes law applies to a wide range of violent crimes, including robbery, assault, and certain firearm offenses. Judges have limited discretion in sentencing under this law, making it challenging to receive leniency.

Legal challenges and reforms

There have been several reforms to the three strikes law aimed at reducing its harshness. Proposition 36 (2012) modified the law to impose life sentences only if the third strike is a serious or violent felony. Judges can dismiss prior strikes in the interest of justice, offering some flexibility in sentencing.

Understanding the impact of the three strikes law

Understanding the three strikes law can help you navigate the legal process and prepare a solid defense strategy. While expungement can offer relief by clearing a criminal record, prior convictions can still impact sentencing. The consequences of multiple convictions in California can be life changing under this legislation.