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Approved by California voters in 1994, the Three Strikes Law dramatically increased the sentences for certain repeat offenders who have one or more prior “strikes” on their record. 

(A prior conviction counts as a “strike” if it was received for a serious or violent felony as defined in the California Penal Code.)

Under the original version of the Three Strikes Law, someone with two or more prior “strikes,” who was later convicted of any new felony, no matter how minor, could be declared a “third striker” and would be sentenced to a minimum of 25-years-to-life in state prison. 

 

 

 

The newly-passed Proposition 36 changes the sentencing for some third-strike offenders.  Under the new law, a life-term sentence for a third strike is only allowed in cases in which the current offense is a serious or violent felony, or in cases where the prosecution proves some other specific disqualifying factor. 

This means that the law is now less severe because repeat offenders receiving a third strike for non-violent, non-serious crimes like shoplifting and simple drug possession will be sentenced as if they were “second strikers,” i.e., they will receive twice the normal sentence instead of life in prison. 

 

 

Proposition 36 also created a resentencing procedure for some inmates. Unless “good cause” is shown, petitions for resentencing must be filed by November 7, 2014.

The inmate must show that neither the current offense nor the prior strike(s) come within any exclusion categories. The petition must describe all of the currently charged felonies that resulted in the third-strike sentence, and must also specify all of the prior convictions that were alleged and proved as strikes.  Once the court receives the petition for resentencing, it will determine whether the petitioner is entitled to benefit from the law changes.

If you are eligible for re-sentencing, the judge will then consider whether you qualify for a reduction in your sentence.

 

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