On november 6th, 2012 the people of the State of Californian voted on and approved Proposition 36. Proposition 36 changed California’s three strikes law to a more fair and reasonable sentencing structure. Previously, California’s three strikes law authorized the imposition of a 25 to life term for anyone who committed any felony if the individual had two prior strikes. A strike is considered to be any felony that is serious or violent pursuant to the California Penal Code section 1192.7(c) and Penal Code section 667.5. These include assault with a weapon, assault that causes great bodily harm, or a crime that benefits a criminal street gang. This resulted in individuals looking at 25 year to life convictions for non serious or violent felonies such as possession of drugs, theft, fraud or receipt of stolen property simply because they had two prior strikes in the past.
What changes does Proposition 36 bring to California's three strikes law?
- The 25 to life sentences can only be imposed when the new third felony is a strike, meaning that it has to be considered a serious or violent felony.
- The new three strikes law will imposes the 25 to life sentences on non serious or nonviolent crimes but only if they fall into certain and specific sex, drug or firearm possession crimes. These sex acts include sexual intercourse with one under 16 with the defendant being 21 or older, rape, or any other offense resulting in mandatory registration as a sex offender. (some exceptions still apply). The specific drug offenses include any violation of California Health and safety Code Section 11379.8 and 11370.4. These offense cover manufacturing, selling, transporting or importing controlled substances where the substance exceeds certain weight requirements. If the defendant used a firearm, was armed with a deadly weapon or intended to cause great bodily injury during the commission of the current offense, he also would still be facing 25 to life if he had two prior strikes.
- It will impose 25 to life sentences for felons previously convicted of extremely serious crimes such as rape, murder, child molestation or any felony offense punishable in California by life imprisonment or death, even if the current felony is non serious or non violent.
- It applies retroactively, meaning that those currently serving life sentences under the old thee strikes law may petition the courts for re-sentencing providing the third felony is not serious or violent. The judge would have to determine that the current inmate does not pose an unreasonable risk to public safety.
What effect does Proposition 36 have on an individual with only one strike?
Proposition 36 does not change the sentencing structure for an individual with one previous strike. A prior first strike will still serve to double the sentence on ANY current felony conviction. Further a prior first strike will still make you presumptively for probation on ANY current felony conviction and will still require the defendant to serve up to 80% of time in state prison.
What can we do for you?
The new three strikes law allows those serving life sentences under the old law to petition the court and be re-sentenced. If you or your loved one has been affected by the old three strikes law, contact an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney who is familiar with the new three strikes law who will be able to secure a favorable outcome. They right attorney will be able to look at the new statute, determine if you are serving a life sentence on a non-strike offense and prove to the judge that your release will not pose an unreasonable risk to the public safety.