Call Us Today - It's Free! Text Us
Text Us

Understanding California’s Three Strikes Law: Consequences and Legal Recourse

In the 1990s, the state of California implemented the Three Strikes law as part of a broader “tough-on-crime” legislative package. However, what was intended to deter crime and protect the public quickly revealed profound injustices in its application, sparking public outrage and eventually leading to significant revisions of the law.

Today, the Three Strikes law still carries severe penalties, particularly for those with prior strikes. This blog delves into the complexities of the law, highlighting its impact on individuals and the potential for legal recourse through a Romero motion.

A History of Injustice

Originally, the Three Strikes law brought about unsettling consequences for Californians accused of criminal offenses. One infamous case involved a man who received a life sentence for the seemingly minor act of stealing a single slice of pizza.

The reason? He had two prior strikes on his record, which triggered the severe sentence. This case, along with others like it, shocked the public conscience and fueled calls for reform.

The Current Three Strikes Law

Today, the Three Strikes law continues to cast a long shadow over those with two prior strikes. For example, robbery is categorized as a strike offense. Let’s consider Joe’s story: as a young adult, he was convicted of two separate robbery charges. After serving his time in prison, Joe managed to turn his life around. He secured a job and appeared to be on the path to rehabilitation.

However, Joe’s life took a dramatic turn when he faced provocation from a manager at work. Fueled by anger, Joe made threats of serious harm. These threats resulted in Joe being charged with felony criminal threats, a crime classified as a strike offense. Despite his remarkable progress, Joe now stands on the precipice of a life sentence in prison.

Two Critical Insights into the Three Strikes Law

Joe’s case illustrates two crucial aspects of the Three Strikes law. First, it underscores that strikes persist on an individual’s record, regardless of personal growth or the passage of time since the convictions were acquired. Even when someone has genuinely reformed, prior strikes continue to shape their legal fate.

Secondly, Joe’s story illuminates the ambiguity in determining what qualifies as a strike offense. While it’s intuitive to associate murder, rape, or robbery with strike offenses, the law includes offenses that might appear less severe, such as making threats. This complexity persists despite the state’s efforts to reform the law, leaving individuals with prior convictions vulnerable to unjust outcomes.

The Romero Motion: A Legal Lifeline

Although a strike conviction typically carries lifelong consequences, there exists a legal remedy known as a Romero motion. This motion empowers individuals to petition the court to remove a strike offense from their record, effectively eliminating the possibility of a life sentence.

Our legal team boasts extensive experience in handling cases involving the Three Strikes law, including the drafting and presentation of Romero motions. We understand that navigating the intricate legal landscape of strike offenses can be daunting, but rest assured, we are dedicated to providing the guidance and representation necessary to seek justice.

The Bottom Line

The Three Strikes law in California has evolved over the years, but it continues to have a profound impact on individuals like Joe. As we’ve seen, prior strikes can cast a long shadow over a person’s life, even when they’ve genuinely reformed.

However, the legal recourse of a Romero motion offers hope for those seeking to strike a balance between justice and punishment.

If you or a loved one has a prior strike on your record, don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation. We’re here to help you understand your options and work toward a resolution.

Author Bio

Jo-Anna Nieves is the Founder and Managing Attorney of The Nieves Law Firm, an Oakland criminal defense law firm she created in 2012. With more than 11 years of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, domestic violence, expungement, federal crimes, juvenile law, motions to vacate, sex crimes, violent crimes, and other criminal charges.

Jo-Anna received her Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named a Super Lawyer Rising Star the past 8 years, the #12 Fastest Growing Law Firm in the U.S. by Law Firm 500 in 2019, and one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. by Inc 5000 in 2023.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google