I'll tell you. I've been practicing since the three strikes law went into enactment in 1994 and the prosecutors have really used that to double, triple people's sentences and even put people away for 25 to life, very effectively over that timeframe that I've been practicing.
However, now, the new LA County prosecutor, George Gascon, has basically stymied a lot of these prosecutor's efforts to use the three strikes law to give people huge amounts of time.
So, that's one thing I can definitely say has changed in Los Angeles County for the better if you're a criminal defendant charged with a first, second or third strike case.
A lot of times we can negotiate much better deals than in the past because this new prosecutor has decided that the three strikes law and other criminal tools used by prosecutors have been abused in the past and he's not going to let that happen any longer.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will take a closer look at the three strikes law below.
What is the California Three Strikes Law?
The California “three strikes” law defined under Penal Code 667 PC is essentially a sentencing scheme where defendants can receive a prison sentence of 25 years to life if they are convicted or three serious or violent felony offenses.
As noted, it was first enacted in 1994, but in 2012, California voters approved Proposition 36, that significantly amended the law. Simply put, California's infamous PC 667 three-strikes law mandates a twenty-five-year to life prison sentence for anyone who has been convicted of multiple felony crimes.
Further, it doubles the sentence for anyone convicted of any felony crime when they have a prior violent or other serious felony.
It might be possible for a criminal defense lawyer to challenge a sentence under California's three strikes law by making a request to the judge to remove a prior strike through a “Romero motion,” or getting the felony reduced to a misdemeanor offense.
The severity of two strike and three strike sentences has led to numerous changes in the law over the past 20 years.
These changes might result in sentence reduction and avoiding what would have been a lengthy two-strike or three-strike sentence. Further, defendants could also now be eligible to file for parole.
Which Crimes are “Strikes” under the Three Strikes Law?
In the state of California, a “strike” under the three strikes law are a conviction for a violent felony offense defined under Penal Code 667.5 PC, or a serious felony offense defined under Penal Code 1192.7 PC. These include the following:
- Penal Code 187 PC – murder,
- Penal Code 664/187 PC – attempted murder,
- Penal Code 297 PC – kidnapping,
- Penal Code 215 PC – carjacking,
- Penal Code 203 PC – mayhem,
- Penal Code 261 PC – rape,
- Penal Code 287 PC – oral copulation by force,
- Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts on a child under fourteen,
- Penal Code 286 PC – sodomy
- Penal Code 203 PC – mayhem,
- Penal Code 192(a) PC – voluntary manslaughter,
- Penal Code 451 PC – arson,
- any felony punishable life in prison or the death penalty;
- any felony where defendant inflicts great bodily injury;
- any assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer;
- any felony where defendant used a firearm or dangerous weapon;
- any assault with intent to commit rape or robbery;
- any arson and exploding destructive devices with some forms of intent;
- discharging a firearm into an inhabited vehicle or dwelling;
- any first-degree burglary, robbery, and bank robbery;
- intimidation of a witness or victim and some criminal threats;
- any kidnapping and hostage-taking by a prisoner;
- some serious felony drug crimes involving heroin, cocaine;
Three-strikes disputes sometimes arise around what constitutes a qualifying felony, which is especially true when a conviction occurred in another state.
With legal assistance representation from an appellate attorney, you could appeal a three strikes sentence in California.
As noted above, Proposition 36 that was enacted in 2012 made substantial changes to the three strikes law that permits inmates to appeal their sentences. If they are successful in their appeal, then they could get released from prison earlier or in some cases, immediately.
Defendant's might be able to file an appeal on their sentence for being unconstitutional based on the Eight Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for cruel and unusual punishment.
Contact the Hedding Law Firm for Help with Three Strike Cases
So, if you or a loved one is charged with a crime — you've got strike priors, you may be facing 25 to life, you've come to the right place.
I know how to effectively negotiate with the prosecutors to get your loved one the best result. Of course, that assumes the government has the evidence to prove they're guilty of whatever they're charged with.
If the government doesn't have the evidence, then obviously, we're going to fight the case, take it to jury trial and do everything we can to get that not-guilty verdict.
Having that ability to get the not-guilty verdict in the right case also helps in a case that shouldn't go to trial because I'm able to point out things to the prosecutors, having a history of the three strikes law on my mind, having won criminal jury trial to show them strengths and weaknesses with their case to try to use that to help my client get the best resolution.
So, the three strikes law has changed as discussed above. If you have prior strikes, you need an attorney who can try to get those strikes stricken for purposes of a resolution.
Pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I've work for the DA's office in the early 1990's, I've worked for a Superior Court Judge and then in 1994 when the three strikes law came into effect, I became a criminal defense attorney and have been practicing effectively ever since.
Hedding law Firm is located in Los Angeles County and we offer a free case consultation at (213) 542-0979.