California Three Strikes Law

Under the California Three Strikes Law those people who have been convicted of two or more prior strikes face a life term sentence for the third felony conviction even if the third felony conviction is not a strike. Those defendants who have been convicted of a prior strike must be sentenced to prison for twice the determinate term or twice the minimum for the indeterminate term.

The Three Strikes Law in California is harsh. This law is a tough-on-crime law that increases punishments for repeat offenders. In addition to lengthening prison sentences the Three Strikes Law also reduces prison credits for good behavior. The Three Strikes Law’s passage was based on the belief that it would protect Californians from violent repeat offenders who belong behind bars.

What are Strike Priors?
Convictions in California for serious or violent felonies under California Penal Code Sections 667.5 (c) and 1192.7(c) are strike priors; Felony convictions from another state that have all the elements of serious or violent felonies under Penal Code Sections 667.5 (c) and 1192.7(c) are strike priors; Juvenile offenses (adjudications) for certain offenses are strikes when the juvenile was 16 or 17 years old at the time of the offense.

Some Examples of Serious or Violent Strikes
Murder or voluntary manslaughter; mayhem; rape; sodomy by force; sexual abuse of a child under 14 years old; oral copulation by force; any felony punishable by death or life imprisonment; any felony using a firearm or inflicting great bodily injury (GBI); kidnapping; attempted murder; carjacking; and exploding any device with intent to inure or kill. For a complete list, please refer to California Penal Code sections 1192.7(c) and 667.5(c). For juvenile strikes please see California Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b).

Some facts about California Three Strikes Laws:

  • Under California Three Strikes Law, a single night of criminal activity multiple crimes can be counted as separate strikes meaning that one night of poor judgment could rack up two or more strikes.
  • There are no expiration dates on prior offenses, so even a conviction from far in the past will remain as a strike. In addition, a felony conviction that occurred before California Three Strikes Law was enacted will still be counted as a strike.
  • Certain Juvenile offenses (adjudications) are counted as strikes. A defendant could be one strike away from life in prison, even though prior strikes were committed before a defendant became an adult.
  • Prior convictions do not necessarily need to have resulted in prison terms to be counted as strikes under California Three Strikes Law.
  • Even if a defendant has received dismissal on successful completion of probation, the crime will still be counted as a strike.
  • Expunged convictions can still be counted as prior strikes.

The Law Offices of Chester & Lewkowicz Can Help

Cheseter & Lewkowicz are tough, aggressive, and knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys who believe that all defendants, no matter what they are charged with, are entitled to a complete and aggressive defense.

Strike offenses are very serious and defending against them can be complicated. In California the stakes are high when the accused is facing any strike offenses. Some inexperienced lawyers will plead these cases out without a fight.