The Three Strikes Law provides that if you have two or more “serious or violent” felonies, then you are eligible, if convicted of ANY felony, for a 25 year to life sentence. Many people think that if you have multiple felonies charged against you at the same time, each one can be a strike, but that is false. Just because you have prior felony convictions against you, it does not necessarily mean that you are eligible for the three strikes law. You can have 20 felony convictions for crimes that are not “serious or violent” and not be eligible for three strikes treatment.
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It is really important to show the prosecutor and the judge that, even though you may have a criminal past that involves 2 or more strikes, the current charge doesn’t justify life in prison. How do you do that? You need an attorney who is experienced in these cases and who can present your case in the best possible light. You are not necessarily doomed to suffer a third strike, if you have the right legal representation.
Because you have two prior strikes means you are eligible for a 25 year to life sentence, but does not mean you MUST have that. The judge still retains the power and jurisdiction to prevent that. Judges have the power to “strike the strike” which is equivalent to erasing a prior strike so that you appear to have only one strike or less against you. Depending on your circumstances, an experienced defense lawyer can convince the court that “in the interests of justice” the judge should “strike the strike”. This is sometimes called a “Romero Motion”.
When you are convicted of a crime you are told that the conviction is a strike. Therefore, you are on notice that your conviction can lead to increased punishment in the future. However, even very old convictions that occurred before 1994, when the three strikes law went into effect, can be counted as a strikes if they would be considered strikes today.
In defending a three strikes case, things are not always as black and white as they seem. It is important to look at the way the defendant has lived his life since his last conviction. How did the prior strikes occur? Were there some mitigating circumstances that came along with those prior convictions? In other words, a savvy defense attorney looks at past and present charges. Mr. Loewenstein has handled hundreds of strike cases and is an expert in defending against this harsh law.