Since becoming part of the California Penal Code in 1994, the Three Strikes law has increased the punishment for new criminal offenses if defendants have a conviction for at least one previous felony on their records. Although the Three Strikes law received a modification in 2012 to reduce the punishment for some prior felonies, prolonged prison sentences of more than 25 years remain an integral part of California criminal law.
Overview of California’s Three Strikes Law
We explain to our clients that the California Three Strikes Law consists of two broad provisions. The first provision is the harsher of the two provisions. A defendant who commits a new felony and has at least two prior felony convictions on record must receive a prison sentence that lasts a minimum of 25 years.
The second provision punishes a defendant who commits a new felony and has one prior felony conviction on record. The punishment for the second provision of California’s Three Strikes law is two times the term of the current felony. For example, if a defendant is sentenced to 10 years in prison and the defendant has one prior felony conviction, the defendant can expect to receive a prison sentence for the current felony that lasts 20 years.
Here are some of the felony convictions that qualify a defendant for sentencing under California’s Three Strikes law:
- Attempted murder
- Domestic violence
California defendants that have one or more felony convictions from another can be sentenced under California’s Three Strikes law if the felony convictions were for a crime that the Three Strikes law covers. This includes felony convictions from another state that have been expunged. Certain juvenile criminal offenses can also qualify a defendant for sentencing under California’s Three Strikes law.
Getting Prior Felonies Dismissed
Although the Three Strikes law in California is especially harsh for repeat felony offenders, defendants that face a third felony conviction should immediately seek the legal help of a California criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can work to dismiss one or more of the previous felony convictions by filing a motion called the “Romero Motion.”
The court where your attorney submits a Romero Motion will consider several factors before issuing a decision regarding the dismissal of a prior felony conviction. First, the judge overseeing the case will take into account the lack of severity for the current criminal offense. If you face a criminal charge that did not involve violence, the judge presiding over your case might consider dismissing a prior felony conviction.
Second, your attorney can argue that by not dismissing a prior felony conviction, the court is applying an unjust prison sentence for the current charge. This means a defendant’s potential current sentence can be a relevant factor when a judge decides whether to dismiss a previous conviction. Other factors include a prior conviction during a time of unusual behavior in a defendant’s life and whether the defendant struggled with addiction when arrested for a previous felony offense.
Contact a California Criminal Defense Attorney
If you face a felony criminal charge and you have at least one prior felony conviction on your record, you must act with a sense of urgency by contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Criminal defense attorneys Scoot Simmons and Dan Wagner know how to challenge California’s Three Strikes law by filing a Romero Motion.
Call us today (949) 439-5857 to schedule a free consultation to determine how to proceed with your current case.