San Diego Criminal Defense

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San Diego Criminal Lawyer

California Three (3) Strikes Law

Explained by a San Diego Criminal Lawyer


California's Three Strikes sentencing law was originally enacted in 1994. The essence of the Three Strikes law was to require a defendant convicted of any new felony, having suffered one prior conviction of a serious felony to be sentenced to state prison for twice the term otherwise provided for the crime. If the defendant was convicted of any felony with two or more prior strikes, the law mandated a state prison term of at least 25 years to life.


On November 6, 2012 the voters approved Proposition 36 which substantially amended the law with two primary provisions:

(1)In order to sentence a defendant as a third strike offender the new felony must be a serious or violent felony with two or more prior strikes to qualify for the 25 year-to-life sentence as a third strike offender; and

(2) the addition of a process by which third-strike defendants currently serving a third strike sentence may petition the court for reduction of their term to a second strike sentence, if they would have been eligible for second strike sentencing under the new law.

San Diego Criminal Lawyer | California 3 Strikes Law


The Origin of California's Three Strikes Law


In 1994, California became one of the first states to enact a "three strikes law," along with Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Georgia.  Just years prior, the city of Los Angeles experienced over 1,000 homicides, and the public wanted fresh ideas of how to combat the growing problem of violent crime. An overwhelming 74% of the population voted for the imposition of three strikes in 1994. 


Controversial Effects of Three Strikes Law in California

Many scholars suggest that while the homicide rate in Los Angeles is down nearly 75% from the year prior to the enactment of three-strikes, that the law has had little effect in reducing crime, and instead is responsible for the boom in prison populations - as people convicted of non-violent theft and drug crimes are being sentenced under strike laws.  In 2004, John L. Worrall, published, "The Effect of Three-Strikes Legislation on Serious Crime in California," in the Journal of Criminal Justice and concluded that the three strikes law has absolutely no deterrant effect, and instead makes it more likely for those offenders facing a 3rd strike to violently attack police and anyone who get's in their way as they try to escape.  

Facing a Strike?

Contact an Experiecned San Diego Criminal Lawyer Today

If you are facing a strike, or worried that you will receive a strike if you are convicted, contact an experienced San Diego criminal lawyer today to learn more about the process and how it will affect your prison sentence, parole experience and what it means for your future.