Recent arrest highlights California's 'Three Strikes' law

Mar 27, 2014

In 1994, California enacted a 'Three Strikes' sentencing law for repeat offenders who perpetrate felonies. The law was prompted by the murder of an 18-year-old woman, Kimber Reynolds. 

One of the men involved in her murder was charged with 'accessory to murder' and was released from prison after serving half of his nine-year sentence. In the years since, he has been arrested and convicted of various crimes. Now, he's facing charges that might put him prison for the rest of his life under the Three Strikes law; as reported in the local news, he allegedly perpetrated corporal injury to a spouse, along with making criminal threats and violating his probation.

Three Strikes Law
When originally passed in 1994, the law laid down mandatory sentences for convicted felons who had previous felonies on their records counted against them as strikes.  If there were two strikes already on the record, and an individual was convicted of a third felony that was also counted as a strike, the mandatory prison term would be 25-to-life. 

In 2012, some changes were made to the law such that the 'third strike' felony now needs to be considered serious or violent.  Furthermore, people convicted and sentenced for a 'third strike' felony under the previous law can appeal to have their sentences reduced.

Even with the amendments made to it, this sentencing law can still be harsh, and it can be applied with some flexibility and even arbitrariness.  Prosecutors have discretion on what to count as a strike when bringing charges against a defendant and presenting evidence against them during a trial; furthermore, judges also have the power to dismiss a strike.  This has led to criticisms that the law is being unequally applied across different parts of the state.

Don't hesitate to contact a reputable Fresno criminal attorney for representation.  A felony doesn't have to involve murder, rape, or armed robbery.  Crimes involving domestic violence or illegal drugs may also be prosecuted as felonies and count against you as a strike.


Michael Mitchell


Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.