Three Strikes laws are statutes enacted by state governments in the United States which require the state courts to impose a life sentence, usually with the possibility of parole, to persons who have been convicted of two or more violent criminal offenses. These statutes became very popular in the 1990s. Twenty-four states have some form of habitual offender laws. California enacted its Three Strikes Law in 1994.  The California three strikes law significantly increases the prison sentence of persons convicted of a felony, who have been previously convicted of two or more serious or violent felonies, to 25 years to life.

The California Penal Code identifies the relevant serious or violent offenses by statute.  A strike may include listed convictions committed prior to enactment of the “Three Strike Law,” similar convictions from other states, similar federal convictions, and some juvenile convictions.

California Penal Code section 667.5(c) identifies Violent felonies as follows:

• Murder or manslaughter,
• Mayhem,
• Rape by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person, or threat of future retaliation,
• Sodomy as defined,
• Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person, or one who is an aider and abettor,
• Lewd act on a child under 14 years,
• Any felony punishable by death or life sentence,
• Any felony resulting in great bodily injury or in which a firearm was used,
• Robbery,
• Arson of an inhabited dwelling or that causes great bodily injury,
• Sexual penetration by a foreign object by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury,
• Attempted murder,
• Explosion with intent to commit murder or causes bodily injury,
• Kidnapping,
• Assault with intent to commit rape and other specified felonies,
• Continuous sexual abuse of a child,
•Carjacking,
•Rape in concert,
•Extortion for the benefit of a criminal street gang,
•Threats to victims/witnesses for the benefit of a criminal street gang,
• Residential burglary with a person present,
• Use of a firearm during commission of listed felonies, and
• Possession, manufacture or transfer of WMDs.

California Penal Code section 1192.7 identifies Serious felonies as follows:

• Murder or involuntary manslaughter,
• Mayhem,
• Rape,
• Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person,
• Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace or fear of immediate bodily injury on the victim or another person,
• Lewd or lascivious act on a child under the age of 14 years,
• Any felony punishable by death or imprisonment for life,
• Any other felony in which the defendant personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person or personally uses a firearm,
• Attempted murder,
• Assault with intent to commit rape or robbery,
• Assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer,
• Assault by a life prisoner on a non-inmate,
• Assault with a deadly weapon by an inmate,
• Arson,
• Exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to injure,
• Exploding a destructive device or any explosive causing great bodily injury or mayhem,
• Exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to murder,
• Burglary of an inhabited dwelling, house or trailer coach as defined by the Vehicle Code or inhabited portion of any other building,
• Robbery or bank robbery,
• Kidnapping,
• Holding of a hostage by a person confined in a state prison,
• Attempt to commit a felony punishable by death or life imprisonment,
• Any felony in which the defendant personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon,
• Selling, furnishing, administering, giving or offering to sell, furnish administer or give to a minor heroin, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), a methamphetamine-related drug, or a precursor of methamphetamine,
• Any violation of subdivision (a) of Section 289 where the act is accomplished against the victim’s will by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person,
• Grand theft involving a firearm,
• Carjacking,
• Any felony offense for the benefit of a criminal street gang,
• Assault with intent to commit a sex crime,
• assault with a deadly weapon or on a peace officer,
• Any attempt to commit a crime listed in this subdivision other than an assault,
• Discharge of a firearm at an inhabited dwelling,
• Rape in concert with another,
• Continuous sexual abuse of a child,
• Shooting from a vehicle, and
• Criminal threats,

In California, first and second strikes are counted by individual charges, rather than individual cases, so a defendant may have been charged and convicted of “first and second strikes” arising from a single case, even one that was disposed of prior to the passage of the law. It is up to the prosecutor’s discretion how many charges to levy against a defendant for a single criminal event.

We have an extensive and successful track record in representing clients prosecuted for prior strike offenses. Whether attacking the validity of the prior strike conviction or seeking sentencing alternatives, we will communicate with you our defense plan to protect your freedom.  Contact Us.