Three Strikes Defense

Do Not Become Another Statistic: Trust Your Three Strikes Defense Attorney

The purpose of California’s Three Strikes law was to keep repeated offenders from getting back on the streets and committing violent crimes. Regardless of the intention behind it, the reality has been a disaster. People have been sentenced to life in prison for non-violent, victimless crimes such as possession of a controlled substance. If you are facing charges of a crime that is considered a Strike, then you need to contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 right away.

The Three Strikes Law is a Sentencing Enhancement

The Three Strikes law is not a charge itself but rather is a sentencing enhancement that comes in to play on a person’s second felony conviction. If there is a serious or violent felony conviction on a person’s record, they could face double the penalties that would typically apply for any second felony they are convicted of, and if they are convicted of a third felony then they could be sentenced to 25 years to life.

Further, a person who is serving time for a strike sentence cannot earn what are essentially “custody credits,” i.e. time served for good behavior. In other cases, a person can be released after serving half of their sentence, but a second or third striker must complete 80% of their sentence before they can be considered for release. If the felony they were charged with is considered violent then they must serve 85% of the sentence.

Further, the three strikes law requires that strike sentences be served consecutively. This means that if a person faces charges in more than one case, they cannot serve the sentences for both at the same time – they must be served one after another.

There Have Been Recent Changes to the Three Strikes Law

The good news is that recent changes to the law have ensured that a person will no longer be sentenced to life in prison for a non-violent third strike felony such as drug possession, or receiving stolen goods. The bad news is that this third non-violent felony is instead treated as a second strike – which still leaves the defendant facing twice the typical sentence they would be facing.

These Crimes Can Trigger Third Strike Penalties

The third strike must now be considered “serious” or “violent” to qualify the defendant for 25 years to life, but who decides what is serious or violent? Generally speaking, it is up to the judge. Some of the most common types of crimes that qualify as a third strike include:

  • Homicide
  • Rape and other sexually violent offenses
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Child molestation
  • Certain types of assault
  • Felonies involving firearms
  • Gang-related felonies
  • Possession for sale
  • Any sexually violent offense

If you have a question about whether or not a crime you are facing is likely to be considered a strike, contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for help.

Your Three Options When Facing a Third Strike

If you are facing a violent or serious felony charge and you already have three strikes, you might feel that you are out of options. This is false. There are actually three different ways you can choose to handle this.

  1. Beat the Charge. Ideally, we would be able to show the judge or jury that there is not enough evidence for you to be convicted. If you are not convicted of the crime, then it will not count as a third strike and you will not face criminal penalties.
  2. Reduce the Charge. If there is a wealth of evidence against you, then your best option might be to plead guilty in exchange for a charge reduction. For example, if we can negotiate to get the prosecutor to agree to drop a felony charge to a misdemeanor, then you will not face the third strike penalties.
  3. Strike Your Past Strike. We can file a Romero Motion to ask the judge to consider dismissing a past strike against you. The judge will consider the nature of your current charge, how much time has passed since your past strikes, and the facts about those strikes. They can then determine if it makes sense to dismiss a past strike in the furtherance of justice.

If you want to find the best defense option for your third strikes case, then we welcome you to contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857. We are here to help you find the best way forward in this difficult time.