California's Three Strikes Sentencing Law

California’s Three Strikes Sentencing Law

Back in 1994, the state of California added a set of sentencing laws to its court system. They imposed extremely rough penalties to people who are convicted of multiple crimes. The strictest was the California Three Strikes law. The main reason behind this law was to discourage residents of this state from committing crimes. Unfortunately, this law has been responsible for unfairly sentencing criminal defendants who committed minor offenses. If you find yourself behind bars, you may need help posting bond. In this case, be sure to contact a trusted bail bondsman. This will help you return home until your trial. Also, your bondsman may be able to answer your questions about these sentencing laws in California.

What is the Three Strikes Law in California?

What is the Three Strikes law? If you reside in California, it is important to understand the Three Strikes law definition. Under this law, a defendant who has been previously involved in a “serious felony,” will experience heightened consequences for future criminal activity. It is essential to comprehend the guidelines that deal with convictions of felony crimes.

During “strike one,” a person is convicted of a “serious felony” and has one mark placed on his or her record. The sentence for this felony is not affected by this law. Here are examples of “serious felonies.”

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Lewd act on a minor under 14 years of age
  • Arson
  • Certain theft
  • Any felony punishable by life in prison or death

The next time that this person is convicted of a felony, the California Three Strikes law goes into action. During the sentencing phase of a second crime, prison time is doubled. At this point, another “strike” is added to the person’s record.

When the person is convicted of a third felony, the person is automatically sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison. After three convictions of felony crimes, it is possible to receive life in prison. Even if the latest offense was not serious, the Three Strikes law takes effect and dictates the punishment.

What are the Consequences of California’s Three Strikes Law?

After the 1994 law was enacted, people who were convicted of serious felonies experienced an increase in consequences. In many cases, individuals who made one or two mistakes faced mandatory imprisonment over minor crimes. Certain statistics show the dramatic repercussions of this law. A few years after this law took effect, there were 360 defendants serving life behind bars for shoplifting. This seemed unfair to many people.

Changes to the Three Strikes Law

In 2012, residents of California were ready to make changes to the Three Strikes law. They voted in favor of Proposition 36. This amended the sentencing rules in two ways. To begin, a defendant may only be sentenced to 25 years to life if he or she has two strikes and has been convicted of a “serious felony.” This eliminates the chance of being imprisoned for crimes that were not major. Also, Proposition 36 brought relief to certain criminals who were serving long sentences after a “third strike.” If the third crime was not violent and was not a “serious felony,” the defendant could petition for a lower sentence.

Further Changes to California’s Three Strikes Law

In 2018, there were proposals to bring further changes to California’s Three Strikes law. These changes involved the chances of parole. Life without parole could only be imposed if a person’s third conviction involved a violent felony, sex crime, or murder.

If you have been arrested and need help posting bail, consider working with a trusted bail bonds company. If you have questions about the sentencing laws in California, especially concerning the Three Strikes law definition, an experienced bail bondsman may be able to provide answers. For information, call us today.

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