/ 12.9.22

What Is California's "Three Strikes" Law?

Written by: Doug Ridley

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney If You Are Charged with a Violent Crime

Originally enacted in 1994, California’s Three Strikes sentencing law significantly enhances the penalties for a person convicted of three or more serious or violent penalties. Individuals who have committed a violent crime, are strongly encouraged to consult with a criminal defense lawyer as early as possible. 

At Ridley Defense, our lawyers have extensive experience helping those who have been accused of serious and violent crimes. Ridley Defense founder Douglas Ridley is a former Ventura County prosecutor who worked in the felony unit during his tenure as a deputy district attorney. He knows how the Three Strikes law works and the far-reaching impact it can have on an individual and their family. 

If you have been accused of a violent crime and have a criminal history, contact Ridley Defense to speak directly with an attorney. All case consultations are complimentary.

Why Does the Three Strikes Law Matter?

California’s three strikes sentencing law was enacted (California Penal Code Section 667 (b) to (i)) to ensure that people who commit a felony and who have been previously convicted of a serious or violent felony serve a longer sentence and punishment. 

Opponents of the law argue that the law is ineffective and that it has led to the overpopulation of California’s prisons. In some cases, a third strike will occur even if the crime was not a violent or serious felony. Drug offenses are the most common example cited by individuals who hope to see the law overturned.

There have been several efforts to repeal the sentencing law, but to date, none have been successful. However, there have been important modifications that have limited the reach of the law. The Ridley Defense team has extensive experience and knowledge that can help mitigate the punishment that may be enhanced by the three strikes sentencing law. 

What Are Serious or Violent Crimes?

Penal Code 1192.7 defines what is meant by a “serious felony,” while Penal Code 667.5 defines what qualifies as a “violent felony.” 

Examples of serious or violent felonies include but are not limited to:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Sodomy
  • Lewd or lascivious acts
  • Mayhem
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping

The list is far from exhaustive. There are dozens of crimes that may qualify as a strike resulting in harsher penalties and more prison time upon conviction. It is always in your best interest to consult with a criminal defense lawyer if you have been arrested for or charged with a felony offense. 

Fighting the Three Strikes Law

The best way to fight sentencing enhancements under California’s three strikes law is to hire a qualified attorney. An attorney can help you understand your rights. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a lawyer may be able to file a motion requesting that a prior strike be dismissed. A lawyer can also help you appeal your sentence under the law. 

A third striker can face up to 25 years to life in prison. Even a second striker may receive double the maximum sentence for the current felony. Without an attorney, it is unlikely that you will be able to negotiate for a fair disposition of your case. 

Hiring an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

Were you arrested or charged with a violent crime? Contact our office for a complimentary consultation. Let us help you understand California’s three strikes law and how we can help you get your life back on track.

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