In the 1990s, California followed the rest of the country in toughening its sentencing law with the intent of cutting crime. Like many of these statutes meant to show toughness, the California Three Strikes Law led to many harsh and unjust outcomes. There is still some form of that law on the books, although it was made slightly more lenient a decade ago.
The thought behind the Three Strikes Law was to “get tough” on repeat offenders and take them off the streets. As originally passed, this law made a 25 years to life sentence mandatory on the third felony conviction. However, the original law led to many seemingly unjust results, where people convicted of nonviolent or lesser felonies ended up with life sentences.
Mandatory Sentences on Some Felony Convictions
In 2012, California voters approved a ballot measure to change the Three Strikes law. Now, the law still imposes a mandatory sentence on the third felony conviction, but the third conviction must be for a violent felony. If the defendant is convicted on a drug or theft charge for their third conviction (or other nonviolent crimes), there will not be a mandatory sentence. There may still be harsh consequences, but the law is not as unfair as it was.
However, the possibility of a penalty on the third conviction means that defendants must be careful when facing any felony charges. If they are considering a plea agreement, they might want to consider trying for a misdemeanor charge if that is an option. If not, they will need to make a strategic decision with their lawyer whether to fight the charges.
Contact a Sacramento Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you need a heavy hitter in court, the Mason Law Office should be your choice for a defense attorney. Call us today at (833) 717-1127 or contact us online to discuss your case.