The California three strikes law is a very potent weapon that the prosecutors use. It came into play in the early 1990's and it has doubled and tripled sentences for criminal defendants in Los Angeles County. The factors that the prosecutors are looking at in determining whether to strike a strike are the age of the strike, the individual's overall criminal record and what the new case is about. The three strikes law was meant for career offenders. So, if you're not a career offender then there's a good argument that maybe your prior strike should be stricken for purposes of the new deal.
That's where it gets a little confusing because let's say somebody has a strike from the early 2000's for example – a robbery – and they pick up a new felony. Now the prosecutors have alleged that prior strike against them in the criminal complaint in Los Angeles and are trying to double their sentence for their new case. In order to avoid their sentence being doubled up – and usually to avoid prison – the prosecutors, for purposes of that deal are going to have to strike the strike and that's where the defense can meet with the boss. Typically, in LA County, in my experience, it's usually the higher-up prosecutors that even have the authority to strike the strike in the first place.
So, they're going to look at the new case. They're going to see what it's all about. If your new case is another strike – another robbery for example – there's a high probability they're not going to strike it. If you just got your prior strike a year or two ago, they're probably not going to strike it. The rule is, it has to be at least ten years before they'll even consider striking a prior strike. But I've seen them do it earlier than that. It just depends on the circumstances. One big argument that I've been successful with is, if a strike occurred when the person was young – when you were a juvenile – let's say you were 16 years old – and you picked up a purse-snatching robbery. That's something we might have a good chance to strike.
They're also going to look at the impact on the victim in the prior case and in the current case. The prosecutors look at a lot of different factors, but the main thing they're looking at is who you impacted, your dangerousness level as a person and whether or not you really deserve to get your strike stricken or you should have to do some serious prison time for what happened.
Another way to get rid of a strike if the prosecutors won't do it is to go through the judge. We can file what's called a Romero motion and the judge has the authority to strike the strike and give you a better resolution than whatever it is the prosecutor is offering. One thing people get confused about is if the strike is stricken and you're given a non-prison probation offer for example, and then you move ahead, do you still have that strike they struck for purposes of the deal you just had? The answer is yes, you do. It doesn't get rid of the strike. They just can't use it for that deal. So, don't get confused about that. If you have a strike and you plead to another case that is also a strike, then you go away from that resolution with two strikes on your record. If you pick up a new felony in the future, you could be facing twenty-five to life.
So, this three strikes law in Los Angeles is very serious. It's not going away. It's been challenged all the way up to the highest court in the land on various different avenues and has been upheld. So, when it comes to striking a strike, your best chance is to get a criminal defense attorney who is local to that jurisdiction where your strike is alleged, who has dealt with the prosecutors and judges there, then they're going to know exactly how they can go about making the best argument to get that strike stricken.
What I do is, I have you come in. We talk about everything. If you are retaining me for a loved one, I'll go out and see them and find out about the new case, find out about the strike case, look into their criminal record, see what they're doing with their life and whether they should be viewed as a career criminal or be given a break because maybe they're using drugs and that's really what is influencing their conduct in the current case.