California three strikes law – what does it mean for you?

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One of the most important things to say about the three strikes law in California is that it should not be taken lightly. It can lead to an individual being given a much harsher sentence, if they are found guilty of a third serious felony offense. If you think this may apply to you, you should seek advice from a criminal lawyer. You may also find the information in this article useful, when it comes to understanding what to expect.

The law is not as harsh as when it was initiated, back in the 90s as a response to incidents such as the Polly Klaas murder. That being said, it still exists; intended to be a deterrent to anyone who is thinking of committing a felony.

What is the three strikes law?

When the law was first introduced, it meant that anyone who was found guilty of a third felony offense, after two serious felony offenses, would face a sentence of twenty-five years to life. This was a situation which meant that a person who had shoplifted could potentially face a stiffer sentence than someone who had committed murder. Unsurprisingly, this was often unpopular.

This is why the law was changed in 2012, with the passing of Proposition 36. The majority in favor of the amendments to the law was large. These amendments meant that there was no longer a mandatory sentence for third strikers who were convicted of a non-serious or nonviolent felony. The changes made the three strikes law more fair. But, it still exists, and you can still receive a mandatory twenty-five years to life sentence, if you are found guilty of a third serious felony.

What happens with third strike sentencing today?

Since the introduction of Proposition 36, sentencing in third strike cases has changed. If you are convicted of a felony which is not serious, after two previous convictions for serious felony offenses, you will not receive the mandatory twenty-five years to life sentence. This does not mean you will get off lightly. You will still receive an enhanced sentence.

If your third felony conviction if for a serious offense, mandatory sentencing still applies. If you think this applies to you, you can speak to your lawyer about what you can expect from your case. They will be able to advise you on what type of sentence is applicable.

The origins of the three strikes law lie in the public concern surrounding famous murder cases of the 1990s. The intention was to try and reduce the occurrences of this type of crime; statistics do not clearly demonstrate that this has happened. The law became unpopular due to the lack of fairness in sentencing it caused. The amendments in 2012 have reduced the controversy concerning the law. But, if you are found guilty of a third serious felony offence, you will still face a mandatory twenty-five years to life sentence.