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What is 'Three Strikes' law in California?

In baseball, it's "three strikes and you're out." In California, the concept is similar. Three felony offenses and you're out of luck. Goodbye career, goodbye family, goodbye hopes and dreams for the future. You'll be facing a very long time - possibly a lifetime - behind bars.

But here's the good news: Depending on the facts of your case, a highly skilled attorney may be able to help you avoid the drastic consequences associated with a third felony charge.

Let's begin by looking closer at California's "Three Strikes" law.

New Convictions Multiply The Prison Sentence

According to California Courts, "Three Strikes" law was introduced in 1994. It was intended to deter felons from committing new crimes after they were released. If you were convicted of a first felony, the prison sentence for a second felony would be twice as long as normal. In other words, a 10-year sentence would become a 20-year sentence if you already had one felony conviction on your record.

Even worse, if you had two felony convictions on your record, you would face a mandatory minimum sentence ranging between 25 years and life imprisonment.

Proposition 36 Made Things Better, But Not By Much

Proposition 36, voted into law in 2012, changed things slightly. Now, individuals convicted of crimes are only considered to have three strikes against them if the third felony is a serious or violent one. However, it didn't change the fact that those with two strikes still face prison sentences that are double the normal length.

How A Lawyer Can Sometimes Change The Game

Sometimes, it's possible to remove a prior "strike" from your criminal record. This can be a real game-changer for you. To have a chance at getting a prior strike dismissed, however, you need a skilled advocate who can persuade the court that that your offense falls "outside the spirit" of the law. This is where a highly experienced attorney can prove invaluable.

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