Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law

What is the three-strikes law?

Taking a hard stance on repeat offenders is something the criminal justice system in California strives for. The state became quite notorious in the 1990s because of a law it enacted that took a very hard approach to repeat offenders committing felonies. The California Courts explains in 1994, the state enacted the three-strikes law. This law imposed harsh penalties if were convicted of three felony charges.

Under the three-strikes law, once you were convicted of three felonies, you were given a mandatory sentence of at least 25 years to life. This law applied to all felony charges. You did not have to have a conviction of the same crime or similar crimes. Any three felonies landed you in prison for at least 25 years with a high possibility of a life sentence.

In 2012, though, the voters changed the law. Many offenders serving under this law were convicted of only drug charges, which in part prompted the change. Instead of any three felony charges landing you the harsher sentence, voters decided that only violent and serious felonies would qualify you for the three-strikes penalty. Do note that the third felony would need to be violent or serious. The first two felonies are still any type of felony.

In addition to that change, voters also decided that those already serving sentences under the three-strikes law could petition for a change in their sentence if their third strike would not now qualify them for the harsher sentencing. This information is for education and is not legal advice.