What Is the Purpose of California’s Three Strikes Law?


Law Offices of Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich

The state of California has a three strikes sentencing law that relates to the state’s criminal justice system. Enacted in 1994, California decided to create a new set of sentencing regulations that would specify what would happen to criminals who have committed multiple crimes. The Three Strikes law’s purpose is to discourage people from executing certain crimes. Over the years, however, this law’s provision relating to sentencing has given harsh penalties to criminals for petty and minor offenses, and so the law’s guidelines have needed to be amended.

What Were the Original Three Strikes Law Regulations?

Under the Three Strikes law for California, criminal defendants originally faced harsh consequences for future crimes after being convicted of a “serious felony.” The defendant would be sentenced to California prison for twice the term that would have otherwise been required for that crime. Essentially:

  • Strike One: A defendant would have one strike on their criminal record if he or she is convicted of a serious felony. This criminal sentence for the first felony conviction is not directly affected by the Three Strikes law’s regulations.
  • Strike Two: If a defendant is convicted of a serious felony a second time, he or she will be sentenced for twice the amount in prison. This second conviction will add a second strike to your criminal record.
  • Strike Three: If the defendant is convicted for a third serious felony, he or she will automatically be sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison. This sentence is mandatory and imposed regardless of the penalties that would otherwise apply for that offense.

In 2012, Proposition 36 updated the Three Strikes law for California citizens. Now, a criminal defendant can only be sentenced to 25 years to life if they have two strikes on their criminal record and then are later convicted of a serious felony. Second, the new proposition allowed a defendant’s third strike to be petitioned to the court if the third offense was not violent or serious.

If you are facing any type of criminal charges in California that could be subject to the Three Strikes law, you should contact the Law Offices of Thomas Nicholas Cvietkovich today. Our attorneys could possibly help you reduce your charges if you have been charged unjustly. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.

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