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How Does the California Three-Strikes Law Affect Prison Time?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | May 15, 2023

Those people who are charged under the California three strikes law with either a first, second, or third strike will quickly realize that the way the law affects prison time is that it doubles and triples it depending on what the circumstances are of the case. 

It also makes it much more likely that someone will go to prison.  Very rarely do you see a scenario where someone has to plead guilty to a first, second, or third strike, and they don't get prison.

So, the bottom line is that you don't want a strike if you can avoid it.  If you've already got strikes, you don't want them to use them against you as a second or third strike because, depending on the circumstances, you could face many years in prison.

Challenging the Underlying Crime

We try to deal with that by looking at the case itself and seeing whether there's a chance to actually fight the case, where you could successfully get a not-guilty verdict or get the case dismissed.

If you can do that, you don't have to worry about the three strikes law because they need an underlying offense to give you any prison and use those strikes against you.

The next way we can attack the three strikes law is to attempt to reduce the case to a misdemeanor.  Misdemeanors do not trigger the three strikes law, so if we can get the case, pursuant to Penal Code 17(b) PC, reduced to a misdemeanor, then the three strikes law is not applicable.

Romero Motion

The following way to attack the three strikes law is to file a Romero motion with the court. Then, we try to convince the court to grant that motion and strike a prior strike for sentencing purposes.

Romero Motion to Remove Prior Strike Convictions

For example, suppose you had a prior conviction for a Penal Code 211 PC robbery in 2015 and picked up a new case, and they were trying to strike you second using the robbery against you.

In that case, we can file a Romero motion with the judge, asking the judge to strike that 2015 case.  Some of the considerations the judge would be looking at include the following:

  • How old the case – the older, the better for purposes of striking it;
  • What type of conduct was involved?
  • Was it a violent felony?
  • Was it a serious felony?
  • Was anybody injured?
  • What type of sentence you got in that case?

Maybe you didn't even get any jail or prison time, and now all of a sudden, prosecutors are trying to strike you and give you a bunch of prison time.

Negotiating with the Prosecution

Another way strikes can be attacked is through the district attorney's office.  In Los Angeles County right now, there's a good chance that we can avoid your prior strike or priors being used against you based on the current LA district attorney's official position regarding the three strikes law. 

The DA also has the power not to file strikes against you even if you have them, and then finally, the DA also has the power to strike strikes that they have filed against you, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Developing a Defense Strategy

So, this gives you a feel for what can be done depending on the circumstances of your case.  When a family member calls in for you or when you call in, we have you come in and do the following: 

  • We sit down and go over your particular case;
  • We look at the strikes that you have alleged against you;
  • We look at the current case to see if it's a strike; and
  • Then we talk about the best strategy that applies to you.

First, we must see whether you can fight the case and win in a jury trial. If you can't, then we have to figure out a mitigation strategy to try to either chop the case down the sides, maybe by doing the preliminary hearing and damaging the prosecutor's case, or getting letters of character and other information that can be used to try to mitigate the case with the prosecutors and judge.

If you need the best, you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  Let me put my 30 years of experience to work for you.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.