California and the Three Strikes Law

Steven Spielberg

Taken from the game of baseball, the Three Strikes Law operates under the saying “three strikes and you’re out!” This harsh law means that offenders can be sentenced to life imprisonment for a crime as minor as petty theft, if they have two other convictions on their record. This law was enacted as a result of Proposition 184 put forward in 1994. In the 90s, there were certain instances which sparked the creation of this law, including the murder of two young girls by men who had already been convicted of a crime. It was passed with an overwhelming majority, but since then, unforeseen side effects have arisen.

What are these unforeseen and often tragic side effects? First, any felony can constitute a strike. Many believe that it should only be serious felonies or violent felonies that could cause a person to be sent to prison for life. Related to that, there are several crimes that are “wobblers,” crimes sometimes charged as felonies and sometimes as misdemeanors. However, those convicted can be given a strike by committing a wobbler crime. This law can also lead to unreasonable penalties. It has happened that a person was convicted of a third strike of shoplifting only to receive a penalty that was harsher than a murder conviction. Another problem that many legal professionals have with this law is that it can violate the Eight Amendment which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment. It leaves the accused in a crowded prison system without any hope of rehabilitation.

As the law clearly states that anyone who has two or more strikes on their record has to receive 25 year to life in prison, it is important that those who have been accused of a felony do everything in their power to defend themselves. Thankfully, with a strong legal advocate on your side, there are ways to fight your charges and avoid a conviction. It is always worth attempting to fight this type of conviction because the stakes are so high. Even if you cannot get your charges dropped completely, even reducing your felony to a misdemeanor means that it will not count as a strike on your record.

If you or a loved one was accused of a three strikes crime and are worried that it may affect you under the Three Strikes Law, you should not waste any time in contacting a legal representative from your local area. Talking to someone with experience in this area of law could prove to be the difference in the outcome of your case.

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