California Three Strikes Law & Penalties
California has a three strikes law that imposes enhanced penalties on those who have been convicted of their third violent felony offense. Prior to amendment in 2012, the three strikes law used to apply to all those convicted of a third felony offense, whether or not it was violent in nature. This is a type of habitual offender law, and it imposes 25 years to life sentences on those convicted under it.
The original three strikes law was adopted in 1994. Originally, there were also automatic enhanced penalties for those convicted of their second “strike.” A second strike was any new felony conviction, rather than violent felony convictions only. According to the California Courts, as of March 2012 there were approximately 33,000 second strikers in California prisons.
One major reason why the three strikes law was amended by Proposition 36 was to cut the expenses for California prisons. California legislators also recognized that, while all felony offenses are serious, the ones that should be punished with 25 years to life imprisonment are only those felonies that are violent. When Prop 36 passed, it allowed for some people who had been convicted under the old three strikes law to have their cases re-sentenced.
Prop 36 also made a distinction between offenders with all three felonies being violent and those offenders who, while they had two prior violent felony offenses, the third felony offense was non-violent. For those who have been convicted of two violent felony offenses and a third non-violent offense, they will not have to face 25 years to life imprisonment, but rather a sentence that is twice the usual term for their most recent offense.
Was your loved one convicted under the old three strikes law? A Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from our firm, Martinian Lawyers may be able to help you apply for resentencing with the courts. According to Prop 36, “The measure limits eligibility for resentencing to third strikers whose current offense is non-serious, non-violent and who have not committed certain prior drug, sex or gun-related offenses.