Three Strikes Defense

California has the toughest Three Strikes law in the country. Crimes that seem relatively minor can result in prison sentences of 25 years to life under California’s law because any felony, including nonviolent felonies, can be a third strike offense. If you are convicted of a second strike offense, the prison sentence that you would normally receive for that offense is doubled. For third strike offenses, a conviction could result in you facing a sentence of 25 years to life.

First and Second Strike Offenses

To get a first and second strike on your record, you must be convicted of a crime that is defined as either “serious” or “violent” under California’s Penal Code. Such crimes include:

It is important to consult with an attorney to determine whether your prior convictions meet the legal definition for being a strike. You can get two strikes on your record from convictions resulting from one course of events. For example, if you robbed someone and assaulted them with a firearm in the process, you may be convicted of two strikes. Convictions from other states may also count as strikes in California.

Third Strike Offenses

Once you have two strikes on your record, any felony conviction can be a third strike. This may include something as minor as a drug offense or a minor theft charge. The Supreme Court has determined that it does not violate the constitution for California to sentence people to 25 years to life for third strike offenses such as stealing 3 golf clubs or shoplifting 4 videocassettes. Due to the serious consequences of the Three Strikes law, it is important to work with your attorney to avoid any strike convictions on your record. If you believe that you may already have strike convictions and you are charged with a new offense, talk with an attorney immediately to evaluate your options.

Your attorney may be able to file a motion asking the court to overlook or disregard a prior strike conviction from your record (this is known as a Romero motion). Your attorney will need to convince the Judge to do so in the interest of justice.

Juvenile Strikes

Juvenile cases can also count as strikes in adult court if you were at least 16 years old when the crime occurred. However, not all crimes that are strikes for adults count as strikes for juveniles. For example, criminal threats is a strike for adults but not for juveniles whose cases were processed through juvenile court. The rules for adult strikes apply to any case where a juvenile was processed through adult court.

If you are accused of a strike offense under California’s Three Strikes law, it is important to contact a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately and start working on a defense plan for your case. For a confidential consultation, call Three Strikes defense attorney Jerod Gunsberg in Los Angeles at (323) 633-3423 or get in touch via the secure contact form on this page. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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