What is the “Three Strikes” law?

In 1994, California voters passed legislation enacting the “Three Strikes” law. If you are convicted of any felony after having two previous “serious” or “violent” felonies, you face a mandatory sentence of 25 to life in state prison. If you have one previous “strike” conviction, any sentence you get on a new felony will be doubled. Despite what many people think, not every felony counts as a strike. For example, if you are convicted twice for simple drug possession (a non-strike offense), your next felony would not be a “third strike” that would result in a life sentence. [But keep in mind that other provisions of the California Penal Code may affect your sentence dramatically.] If you are accused of any crime of violence, the best advice is to seek legal representation to possibly avoid a “three strikes” situation.

Edited November 8, 2012:

With the passage of Proposition 36 by the voters, in order for a “third strike” case to result in a 25 to life sentence, a person must have 2 prior qualifying “strikes” and the current offense must also be a “serious” or “violent” offense.  Serious offenses are listed in Penal Code section 1192.7(c) and violent offenses are listed in Penal Code 667.5(c)

6 Trackbacks

  1. […] California’s “three strikes” law, a conviction for any felony with two or more qualifying “strike” offenses can carry a […]

  2. […] Commercial burglary (second degree burglary) is also a “wobbler” offense and can be either a felony or a misdemeanor.  Residential burglary (first degree burglary) is entering a residence with the intent to steal or commit a felony inside.  First degree burglary is a felony and cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor.  It also can be a “strike” under California’s “three strikes” law. […]

  3. […] California’s “three strikes” law, a conviction for any felony with two or more qualifying “strike” offenses can carry a […]

  4. […] Commercial burglary (second degree burglary) is also a “wobbler” offense and can be either a felony or a misdemeanor.  Residential burglary (first degree burglary) is entering a residence with the intent to steal or commit a felony inside.  First degree burglary is a felony and cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor.  It also can be a “strike” under California’s “three strikes” law. […]

  5. […] California’s “Three Strikes” law was passed in 1994.  Many people think that every felony conviction is a “strike” so a third felony must mean they’re facing 25-life under the “three strikes” law.  Not so.  Only “serious” and “violent” felonies are strikes. […]

  6. […] California’s “Three Strikes” law was passed in 1994.  Many people think that every felony conviction is a “strike”.  They aren’t.  Only “serious” and “violent” felonies count as “strikes” under the law. […]

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