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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in three strikes law

San Jose criminal defense attorneyFor those who may be unfamiliar, there are currently 26 states, including California, that have adopted the Three Strikes and You Are Out law. California first adopted this sentencing provision in 1994 as an effort to reduce the number of felony convictions per person by imposing significant sentencing consequences for each felony conviction up to three.

On November 6, 2012, some 18 years later, California proposed an amendment to the law which became known as Proposition 36 to California voters. The proposition was passed and amended the original legislation in two ways:

  • Requirements for sentencing of a third strike offender was now set to 25 years to life if the offender was convicted of a violent felony with two or more previous strikes; and
  • The allowance of those offenders already serving a third strike sentence to petition the court for a reduction of this sentence down to a second strike eligibility.

As violent crime is on the rise across the United States one may believe that the Three Strikes and You Are Out law is necessary but the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) remains in disagreement.

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Three Strikes Law, San Jose criminal defense attorneyThe California Three Strikes law was imposed in an effort to curb the rate of crimes perpetrated by repeat offenders. In practice, however, it often led to people being severely sentenced for crimes that are usually relatively minor. For example, people whose first two strikes were convictions for felony offenses, such as domestic violence or rape, were subsequently sentenced with more intense punishments for seemingly less serious third strike crimes such as theft or drug possession. The law was originally passed hoping to curb recidivism rates, but may have played a role in raising them, resulting in higher costs for both state and federal facilities without actually curbing the rate of offenses.

History and Future of Three Strikes

It was about a decade and a half ago that the first questions were raised as to the effectiveness of the law and such procedures, but it was not until late last year that a reform of the Three Strikes law was brought to the table in California. The law was first passed in 1994. In the years that followed, analysts found that a reimagining of the policy would ultimately save the state of California several hundred million dollars a year. Now, efforts are underway to bring the law may to voters for reconsideration on the November 2016 ballot.

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three strikes, San Jose criminal defense attorneyIn the mid-1990s, California was among 24 states to enact what would become known as a "Three Strikes” sentencing law. The laws were passed in an effort to curb recidivism rates and rates of repeat offenders. For the most part, these laws provided that a defendant who had been convicted of a serious felony would be sentenced to state prison for twice the term otherwise allowed for the offense if the sentencing was the result of a second conviction. When a person committed a crime with at least two other felony incidents on his or her record, the law dictated that the person would serve a state prison term of 25 years to life.

This law was not reviewed until 2012, when voters approved a slight change to the terms: The third felony, or the third strike, now has to be a violent or serious felony in order for the person to be sentenced to 25 years to life. The amended law also allowed prisoners who were currently serving time under the old provisions to petition the court for a reduction of sentence.

There are several arguments against Three Strikes policies—the most common of which is the argument that harsh sentencing laws are not a deterrent for crime. Instead, these types of laws result in overcrowded prisons and poor prison conditions, and their implementation does not reflect a reduction in the overall crime rate, whether serious or not. One alleged reason for this is that the majority of violent crimes are not premeditated; they are crimes committed in the heat of passion, anger, or when under the influence of alcohol. In these instances, when a person is about to commit a violent crime, he or she is not considering the punishment, regardless of how severe it may be.

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