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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Initiative May Change California Three-Strikes Law

Pictured Above: Inmates at the California State Prison in Lancaster. Source: Los Angeles Times.

An initiative to change California three-strikes mandatory-sentencing law is one step closer to appearing on the November voter's ballot. A similar initiative appeared on the 2004 ballot and was rejected by California voters. This change would reduce the sentences for those who are convicted of nonviolent felonies and already have two prior felony strikes against them. This change would result in state prison savings of over millions of dollars annually and over $100 million over time. Although this would save the state money, it may increase local government court costs. Proponents must now gather 500,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

Under California three-strikes law, if you have already been convicted of two strikes, one more felony conviction (of any kind) will result in a sentence of 25-years-to life in prison. If you have been convicted of one strike and receive a second strike, the sentence for that second felony will be double the normal sentence for that crime. A prior conviction constitutes a strike if it a serious or violent felony. If you are convicted of a crime that is considered a strike, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. A defense attorney can ask that the court dismiss the strike allegation for  the “furtherance of justice.”

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