Being charged with any crime is a frightening experience, but if you’re charged with a “3 strikes crime,” it can be even more so. Here’s what you need to know about California’s 3 strikes law, and what it can mean for you.

What Is the 3 Strikes Law?

California has a law that imposes a mandatory 25-year prison sentence for defendants who have been convicted of three violent or serious crimes. If a defendant has two prior violent or serious offenses on his or her criminal record and is found guilty of a third, there is no negotiating reduced sentencing or similar. Depending on the crime in question, the defendant may be sentenced to more than 25 years incarceration, but no less. In some cases, the 3rd crime does not have to be violent or serious — it can simply be any felony.

Examples of 3 Strikes Crimes

Violent offenses like murder, rape, and certain firearms offenses are 3 strikes crimes, and for good reason. However, there are a great deal of less serious offenses that are still classified under this law, including but not limited to: drug crimes, criminal threats, sex offenses, and others. Even non-serious crimes, like petty theft or second degree burglary, can result in the minimum sentencing under the 3 strikes laws if the defendant had two priors.

Consequences of the 3 Strikes Law

The biggest problem with the 3 Strikes Law in California is that it is hard to overcome. California’s prisons are overflowing, and tax dollars are having a difficult time keeping up with the increase in prisoners as a result of the law. Many defendants are consenting to plea agreements or even getting jail time for offenses that would ordinarily be resolved with simple probation, in fear of the 3 strikes law being applied. Additionally, it is possible to get multiple strikes for a single offense. The law doesn’t just apply to career criminals who have a history of violence. It’s possible for a defendant to get 3 strikes at one time, even if it’s their first time in front of a judge. Often, defendants who have priors on their record from decades ago, who have served their time and have been a successful member of society since, face life in prison under the 3 strikes law.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible

If you are charged with any crime in California, it is critical that you contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible. Even if this isn’t your “3rd strike,” avoiding conviction is key to staying out from under the 3 strikes law. Former prosecutor Joshua P. Visco understands how critical it is to keep felonies and serious crimes off your record, and he can provide you with expert legal representation from the start of your case. Call today for a consultation to discuss your legal needs at (714) 242-1223 or toll free at (855) 4JPV LAW.