The 3 Strikes Habitual Offender Law

California has been a national leader in habitual offender legislation, commonly referred to as “3 Strikes” laws. The reasoning behind such laws is pretty simple: Give harsher sentences to criminals who have been convicted of three or more serious felonies because they will just re-offend if they’re not behind bars.

Kidnapping, Attempted Murder, sex acts w/ a minor under age 14, Robbery, and Grand Theft With Use of a Firearm are just some of “strike” offenses recognized in our state.

Three or more strikes can land a defendant a sentence from 25 years to life, however, simply having a single strike on one’s record can ensure that every jail or prison stretch received in the future will be doubled in length. Obviously, strikes offenses are not trivial matters and defendants facing them require top-notch legal representation.

How likely are you to face prosecution for a second or third strike? Statistically, it can depend upon who you are and where you are. Be advised that far more blacks and Latino defendants face second and third strike charges than whites and Asians. Also, Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Sacramento counties prosecute for strike offenses far more commonly than other places in California, particularly Alameda and San Francisco counties. Finally, second and third strike prosecutions generally happen to “older” defendants. The numbers reveal that people between the age of 30 to 39 easily face the highest number of second and third strike cases in the Golden State.

Common advice provided by defense attorneys to clients who have picked up a second strike conviction: “Leave California. Move somewhere that doesn’t have strikes laws.”

If you never heard that warning or failed to follow the advice when you did, and are now facing a third strike case, contact a private lawyer immediately. You have probably never needed a good criminal defense attorney more than you do at this moment.


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