Strike Offenses (Three Strikes)

Counsel from a Ventura Criminal Lawyer

In California, you can serve a life sentence for shoplifting. That is because California’s “three-strike” law is one of the harshest sentencing regimes in the country. Having a prior “strike” on your record increases the length of the sentence for a subsequent crime. The later crime does not need to be a “strike” or even a violent offense for the harsher sentencing regime to take effect.

It must be a felony or a “wobbler” – a crime that is sometimes charged as a felony and sometimes as a misdemeanor. A straight misdemeanor conviction will not be subject to the strike sentencing rules, but judges are likely to award a less lenient sentence for those with prior convictions. Our criminal attorney in Ventura may provide the legal solutions you need against a strike offense!

Contact the Law Office of Christopher P. Welch to learn more!

Which crimes are Strikes?

Strikes are defined as “serious” or “violent” felonies. These include the obvious: murder, rape, kidnapping, arson, attempted murder, etc. What you might not know is that the strikes law also includes criminal threats, lewd acts on a child under 14, great bodily injury, robbery, extortion, explosives-related offenses, dissuading a witness, any felony where the defendant used a dangerous or deadly weapon and many more. Whether an offense is a “strike” depends on the specific code section being charged. You can use your free consultation to determine whether you or someone you love is charged with a strike offense. Mr. Welch has helped many clients to beat strike allegations. In one case, he represented a client facing his third strike for domestic violence and had all charges dismissed.

First Strike

If you or someone you love has been charged with a strike offense, it is important to seek legal help immediately. Even a single “strike” will result in harsher punishments for the rest of an offender’s life. This is true even for juveniles. A not-guilty verdict or a favorable plea agreement may prevent a lifetime of worry. In cases involving a strike allegation, it is particularly important to hire an attorney with previous experience handling strike cases.

Second Strike

For those who have already been convicted of a strike offense, a new felony charge creates major challenges only an experienced attorney can handle. A guilty verdict will result in double the prison term. Additionally, a strike prior affects how many good conduct credits you can receive while in prison, so both the sentence and actual time served will be much longer. This is true even if the strike offense was committed in another state or as a juvenile. Fortunately, there are several things an experienced attorney like Mr. Welch can do. Some examples are:

  • Negotiating with the district attorney to dismiss the strike allegation.
  • Moving to “strike-the-strike” in the interest of justice.
  • Winning at trial, making sentencing concerns irrelevant.

For an offense as serious as a second strike, make sure your attorney has real experience and a winning record.

Third Strike

Any felony conviction with two strike priors will result in a minimum sentence of 25 years to life. That sentence will be served with limited good behavior credits. It is important to fight not only the third strike, but also any strike to avoid this dire outcome.

After the Third Strike

If you are convicted of a third-strike offense and an extremely harsh sentences is imposed, you may be a good candidate for appeal under the 8th Amendment.

The home-court advantage is particularly important in strike cases. You will want an attorney with inside knowledge and experience in your county. Someone who knows what to expect from the jurors and the district attorneys in your county is crucial to achieving the best result possible. Chris Welch not only knows the law, he has worked extensively with Judges and District Attorneys in Ventura, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties.

Contact our Ventura criminal defense attorney today for counsel.