Long Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

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Long Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

Three Strikes

Criminal defense attorney, Matthew Kaestner, is a certified criminal law specialist in Long Beach. Mr. Kaestner has defended clients charged under the "Three Strikes Law" since was the law was first enforced on March 7, 1994. Attorney Kaestner has defended hundreds of clients charged under the "Three Strikes Law." If you have questions or need immediate on a "Three Strikes" case or any criminal case, call Mr. Kaestner personally at(562) 437-0200. Here is a brief look at the "Three Strikes Law" in California.

California's "Three Strikes Law" commenced on March 7, 1994. In November of 2012, Proposition 36 was voted into law. California's voters decided to outlaw three strikes sentences, the 25 year to life sentence, for most felonies that are not serious or violent.

The "Three Strikes Law" is both a two strike law and a three strike law. For persons who have been convicted of at least one "strike" at any time in their life, they must be sentenced to a longer sentence on any future felony they are convicted of. If a person with a prior "strike" conviction is convicted of any new felony, three consequences follow. Number one, the person must go to prison, and cannot receive probation. Number two, the person must receive twice the normal sentence. And, number three, the person can only receive only 20% off of their sentence for good behavior in prison. Half time credit is not available.

Since voters passed "Three Strikes" reform in November of 2012, persons with two prior strikes can no longer receive a 25 year to life sentence for non-serious, non-violent felony cases with a few exceptions. A 25 to life sentence is also still available for a drug case with a weight enhancement, various sex crimes, or crimes where a gun was used. Also a 25 to life sentence is still available for non-serious, non-violent new felonies if either of the prior two strikes was a serious homicide, certain sex crimes, a case that carried a life offense, or other certain very violent felonies.

How is a "strike" defined? The definition of a strike under the "Three Strikes Law" is any "serious" or "violent" felony. The list of serious felonies is contained in Penal Code section 1192.7. Violent felonies are listed in Penal Code section 667.5(c). More common "strike" offenses include robbery, assault with a firearm, arson, assault causing great bodily injury, residential burglary, and most sex crimes. Even strikes that were committed before the strike law took effect in 1994 is a strike under the law. Minors convicted of certain strike offenses at the age of 16 or 17 also are deemed to have strike offenses, for their entire life.

California law does provide that "Strikes" can be dismissed to avoid a sentence that is outside the spirit of the law. Both the prosecution and the judge have the power to dismiss one or more strikes to avoid an unfair sentence. The California Supreme Court's 1996 in People v. Romero gave that power to judges. The Court in Romero decided that judges had the power to dismiss one or more strikes in the interest of justice. Thus, strikes are often "stricken" to avoid an unfair sentence. The Supreme Court has limited a trial court's power to dismiss strikes to only those cases where the strike law would violate the "spirit" of the law. (People v. Williams.)

There are strategies to avoid a "Three Strike" sentence. An seasoned criminal defense lawyer will take every step to avoid a strike conviction in the first place. However, some clients have such prior strike convictions, and it is critical to have an extensive working knowledge of both the criminal procedure and the strike law. Many nuances exist within the strike law not discussed here, that can change the outcome in a "Three Strike" case.

Long Beach criminal attorney, Matthew Kaestner, is a board certified specialist in criminal law. Attorney Kaestner has a long history of avoiding a 25 to life sentence for his clients charged as third strikers. His efforts on these cases have resulted in not guilty verdicts at trial, the suppression of key illegally seized evidence, and having the prior strike set aside due to technical and factual errors. If you need expert defense to charges brought under the "Three Strikes Law," call Long Beach criminal law specialist, attorney Matthew Kaestner. Call Mr. Kaestner directly at (562) 437-0200.