San Diego Three Strikes Attorney
California sentencing laws punish more severely those convicted of certain crimes and those with a history of criminal acts. Nowhere is this more evident than under California’s Three Strikes law. Designed to deter criminal behavior, someone with one prior serious felony conviction faces serving double-time on a subsequent felony conviction. Worse still, under the original Three Strikes law, two prior serious felony convictions meant that any third felony conviction, serious or not, would result in a sentence of twenty-five-years-to-life.
In November 2012, California voters approved Proposition 36, which prevents courts from sentencing “Third Strikers” to life in prison if the third strike is not a serious felony. Prop 36 also authorizes courts to resentence those whose third strike was not a serious felony and who no longer present a danger to the public.
Many people find themselves facing a second or third strike. Often, people who have significant juvenile records pick up a felony resulting in a strike application. Additionally, many young people go to prison on a serious felony, and pick up a new strike charge before they can pull their life back together.
The good news is that the court can strike a strike, meaning that there is room for plea and sentence bargaining. Because judges have the power to strike one or more strikes, the district attorney may be likely to bargain more actively. You may have to plea at an early stage to take advantage of a judge who may be inclined to strike a strike so it is important to build a good, trusting relationship with your attorney. You should make sure that your lawyer keeps you fully informed of the facts and your position so that you don’t pass up a deal that might not surface again.
If you are facing a third strike, do not panic or give up, especially now that the law requires a third strike be a serious felony. Even if the third strike is a serious felony, there are ways to avoid serious punishment. A good lawyer knows how to convince the court to strike a previous strike and will prepare accordingly. Preparation will likely include subpoenaing prison records, parole records, and previous probation reports to show how much you’ve changed over the years. Your lawyer may reconstruct your history to show the court how well you did over the years until your most recent arrest. Your lawyer may also have you evaluated by a psychologist to show the court important information about your past and how that relates to current problems in your life.
Because there is so much that can be done to avoid a long sentence, it is really important not to give up. The best thing you can do for yourself is to ensure that you have a good lawyer on your side. A talented lawyer experienced in sentencing matters and sensitive to the human experience is able to use that experience and sensitivity to show the court and the district attorney’s office why you don’t deserve such a harsh sentence. A good lawyer also knows the technical limits of the Three Strikes law. Sometimes crimes that appear to be a strike do not have to be judged that way in court.
Unfortunately, some of these cases do go to trial. If the district attorney will not accept a plea bargain and the court refuses to strike a strike, then you have to fight aggressively to avoid a harsh sentence. Fighting aggressively means using all of the resources available to you, including an experienced, well-prepared lawyer, investigators and experts. Make sure you choose a lawyer experienced in Three Strikes cases and sentencing issues to fight for you.
Attorney Stephen G. Cline has been practicing criminal defense for 20 years. His reputation and experience will be the key to the aggressive defense of your Three Strikes case. Call today at (619) 235-5638 to discuss your specific case!