Being convicted of a felony crime in California is a serious deal. In addition
to the heavy penalties and life-long consequences you could face, you
could also be awarded a “strike” on your record. California
has a “three strikes” law, which essentially states anyone
who is convicted of three “striker” offenses will automatically
be put behind bars for a minimum of 25 years with the possibility of being
imprisoned for life. While these laws have been relaxed somewhat over
the last several years, it’s still important that you fight back
against any accusations you might face. Let’s take a closer look
at these laws.
How the “Three Strikes” Law Works
The “three strikes” law was based in the aftermath of 18-year-old
Kimber Reynolds and 12-year-old Polly Klaas by two men who had previous
criminal records. The law’s intent was to prevent repeat offenders
from being allowed back out into society where they could commit their
crimes again. However, it quickly became apparent that the broad and far-reaching
nature of this law threw many non-violent felony offenders into prison
for decades as well, at the taxpayers’ expense, and laws have since
been softened slightly to allow more non-violent offenders to avoid strikes.
Essentially, this law states that those who are found guilty of a serious
felony offense will be given a “strike” on their record. Once
someone accumulates three strikes, they face a mandatory minimum sentence
of 25 years in prison. Those who are found guilty of murder, rape, or
other “super strike” crimes are often placed into prison for
life after their third offense with little to no recourse for parole.
California Penal Code Section 667.5(c) lists the crimes that are considered
“violent felonies” and are automatically considered “strike”
offenses. This list is fairly broad and includes murder, rape, mayhem,
and other violent crimes, along with many of their different related variants.
It also lists crimes that inflict serious bodily injury on victims, and
also has provisions for crimes that sustain a “California gang enhancement”
or where the defendant personally uses a firearm in perpetrating the offense.
Juvenile offenders are not immune from this law either. As long as these
three conditions are met, juvenile offenders can be issued a strike under
the three strikes law:
- The crime meets the definition of a violent or serious felony
- The crime is listed in California Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b)
- The offender was at least 16 years of age when the offense occurred
Flaws with the Law
Defense attorneys, convicts, and other advocates have long held that the
state’s three strikes law is in some ways too harsh on convicts,
even with the relaxed regulations. Some say the three strikes law could
be considered “cruel and unusual punishment,” making it a
violation of the Eighth Amendment. Others argue that the law is too much
of a financial burden, forcing taxpayers to fund the cost of caring for
aging inmates who pose no significant threat to the public. Still others
say that the three strikes law has not actually led to a decrease in crime,
a claim which is in some ways corroborated.
Are you facing a violent crime or serious felony charge?
Call a Bakersfield criminal defense attorney from Campbell Whitten today at 661-735-1038 and start fighting back with
a case evaluation.