In 1994, California enacted what is typically referred to as the “Three Strikes Law”, which created much more harsh sentences for people who are convicted of crimes that are deemed “strikes”. In essence, if a person is convicted of a “strike” offense, then if they were to be charged again in the future with a Strike, would result in their maximum exposure for their new case to be doubled. An example of this would be, let’s say someone is convicted of a Robbery offense under PC 211. That is considered a violent felony, and also a strike. Then, let’s say ten years later, that same individual picks up a Possession of Drugs for Sale Charge under H & S 11351. Generally, any person charged with a violation of H & S 11351 could be sentenced to State Prison for up to 4 years. However, since this person received a Strike from their previous Robbery case, their exposure doubles, so they can now face a maximum penalty of up to 8 years in State Prison. In addition, instead of serving only 50% of their sentence under H & S 11351, they would be required to serve 80% of that sentence.
If you are charged with a Strike offense and do not have a prior Strike offense, then simply having one now will not double any sentence. Instead, that Strike offense is simply on your record, for if in the future you are to pick up another Felony violation.
Strikes under California Law are found under PC 1192.7 and PC 667.5, which lists out what is considered serious or violent felonies, which are considered Strike offenses. Some of the most common Strike offenses can be Robbery, Murder, Rape, Child Molestation, Kidnapping, Residential Burglary, Criminal Threats, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Sexual Penetration with an Object by Force, among other offenses listed under those code sections.
There is generally no difference between someone who has one strike versus two on their record for that current case. That is because if you have one prior strike or two prior strikes, your maximum exposure will still only be doubled. It does not triple, or get any worse, based simply on having two strikes, instead of just one. It only becomes problematic if you receive a third alleged strike offense while having at least two previous strike offenses on your record.
If you have been previously convicted of at least two strike offenses are then convicted of a third strike offense you will face twenty-five years to life in State Prison. Before 2014, if you had two prior Strike Offenses, and then received any felony offense, you could be sentenced to twenty-five years to life in State Prison. However, now you must have received three prior strike offenses – meaning three or more serious or violent felony offenses leading to strikes – in order to be sentenced to twenty-five years to life in State Prison. However, not all hope is not lost, as there is the potential for your experienced criminal defense attorney to argue that one, or more, of your previous strikes, should be stricken, under what is commonly called a Romero Motion.
A Romero motion is a motion filed by your attorney essentially asking the Judge to dismiss one or more of your previous Strike Offenses in the furtherance of justice. In essence, this allows a Judge to ignore the sentencing requirements of sentencing someone who is considered a Three-Strike Offender to life in prison, even over the Prosecutor’s objection, and sentence you to less time than what you would have received with the Three Strikes. What the motion essentially asks the Judge, is to consider your background history, your upbringing, your family, your current exposure without the strike offenses, among others, to determine whether you are the type of person the Three Strike Law is designed to punish.
This requires much backstory from you, in assisting your attorney in filing the appropriate motion with the accurate case law arguing that you are not the person with which the Three Strike Law was designed to cover. If your attorney is able to convince the Judge that you should be deemed outside the scheme’s spirit, then you have the potential to have your previous strike cases stricken in terms of your sentencing. A Romero motion can be filed in any case where a person has a previous strike, not just when you are facing a third alleged strike allegation. Having an attorney that knows how to write and argue these motions is essential in whether or not it will be granted.
I’ve handled many serious and violent felonies, and I understand the extreme fear of having to spend the rest of your life in State Prison. There are ways to help defeat these mandatory sentencing guideless, and I will help you do that. Call me today at 909-939-7126.