“One Strike” and “Three Strike” Cases

The “Three Strikes” Case in San Diego

Under California law, if you have two prior convictions that are serious or violent felony offenses, you face the possibility of “25 years to life” in prison on the conviction of any third felony offense. The third felony does not have to be a serious felony to qualify as the “third strike.” A prior juvenile conviction can be used as one or more of your strikes. As your criminal defense attorney, we will argue that one or more of your prior strikes should not be considered.

Thus, if a defendant has a prior conviction for residential burglary (a serious felony), and a prior conviction for robbery (a violent felony), and the defendant is then convicted of another felony offense, the mandatory minimum punishment is 25 years to life, absent other major and/or complex issues raised by experienced legal counsel. This is in sharp contrast to a defendant with only one prior serious or violent felony, wherein the punishment for the third felony would depend upon that which is specified by the DSL. Under the existing and current three strikes law (although there are many who continue to push for new legislation), convictions such as residential burglary, robbery, murder, armed and other violent offenses, serious criminal threats and certain cruel and/or serious assault and battery charges, and other cases in a defendant’s criminal past can result in potential 25 years to life sentences for “any” subsequent felony conviction.

All felony “strike” convictions have severe consequences: They require, among other things, the potential for future life sentence enhancements even on a first conviction of a serious or violent felony, a presumptive prison sentence and reduction in credits for incarceration in state prison a defendant usually is entitled for good behavior to credit of 50 percent in state prison, but in cases involving a third strike, the credit is not more than 15 percent.

The “One Strike” Case

Certain offenses can be punished by “life in prison” even though you have no prior convictions. Many sex crimes and crimes involving the use of firearms are punished by “life in prison” on the first offense.

On the “first” strike felony conviction, the defendant is generally sentenced to state prison (this will depend upon a number of factors, legal arguments and defenses raised by legal counsel) and the mandatory minimum is double for the “second” strike. The “third” strike can be anything from writing a bad check, a felony drug offense, or even a petty theft with a prior. The “third” strike does not have to be a serious or violent felony; any felony charge could give that defendant a life sentence in California.