A simple guide to California’s three-strike law

What we can and can’t do is governed by the law, making it a vital aspect of our lives. This naturally means we should have an apt knowledge about it. Having even a base-level understanding of the rules and regulations in your state helps you become a better citizen. The three-strike law is a salient feature of California’s legislature. The law has a rich history and continues to spark intrigue among lawmakers to this day. If you want an in-depth consultation regarding these regulations and the best way to proceed responsibly, you should contact any of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Los Angeles has to offer.

The history of the three-strikes law


The “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law was enacted in 1994 to curb repeated felonies and crimes. The nature of the law instils an approach of fear towards committing a crime more than once. At the time, lawmakers wanted to ensure dangerous criminals weren’t intermingling with society, especially after the brutal murders of Kimber Reynolds and Polly Klaas. They wanted violent actors to remain behind bars so that society could function safely.

The law faced amendment in 2012. Defendants who were serving time under the original act were allowed to petition for a reduced sentence if, under the improved act, their punishment would have differed. This kind of flexibility is important for smooth-running justice systems. 

Understanding the three-strikes law

The three-strikes law looks at felonies in two ways. First, it looks at whether the felony is minor, or serious and secondly, it looks at how many times one has committed a felony to judge whether he is a repeat offender. 

So, if someone has committed two serious or violent felonies, if they commit a third, they will be charged as a “third striker”. In this case, the punishment can be 25 years to life. Third-strike defendants are also not eligible for probation. Maintaining a decent attitude in jail and improving their behaviour can lead to early non-violent parole. 

This is the case when the third felony is just as serious as the first two. If someone has committed two serious felonies, but their third is a minor offence, their sentence will vary. For instance, if someone’s first two offences include burglary and grand theft, their third offence is not as serious. For example, they are driving under the influence. In this case, they would not be sentenced to 25 years, but their regular sentence would be doubled, taking into account the three-strike status. 

Who is a second striker?

Someone who commits their second felony is called a second strike defendant under the act. The sentencing scheme doubles even for someone on their second strike. This further adds to the stringent nature of the crime.

Final word

A criminal justice system is an essential tool that helps society function and helps us sleep peacefully in our homes at night. Every citizen should have primary level knowledge of their legislature and should do their best to be a good law-abiding citizen.

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