In 1994, California adopted a sentencing law known as “Three Strikes” law, which requires a defendant to be sentenced to state prison for twice the term otherwise provided for the crime, if they were convicted of any new felony. In 2012, Prop 36 amended the law by doing the following:

  • For the defendant to serve 25 to life for their third strike, their new felony must be serious or violent with two or more prior strikes.
  • If a defendant is currently serving a third strike sentence, they could petition the court for reduction to a second strike sentence if they would have been eligible under the new laws.

In California, defendants know that the “Three Strikes” law is nothing to play with. It is a very harsh sentencing scheme and, as such, you may have questions if this scheme is being used against you. We will answer some of your questions about the law to help you better understand your case and what you could be facing.


Why was three strikes passed? It was enacted due to cases involving the murders of 18-year-old Kimber Reynolds and 12-year-old Polly Klaas by men who already had criminal records. It was used as a way to stop recidivist offenders. 

How many people are serving sentenced under a “strike?” Research shows that about one in four inmates in California prisons are “strikers” and many are serving second or third strikes due to petty theft. 

Who wouldn’t be eligible to petition for a reduced term? You would not be eligible for a reduced sentence if your third strike consisted of a California sex crime, drug crimes involving large amounts, crimes involving firearms, crimes committed to inflict great bodily injury, or serious and violent crimes like rape and murder.

What are some visible flaws in this system? California’s Three Strikes law does come with flaws. For instance, to some it is viewed as cruel and unusual punishment. It can lead to overcrowding, and it leaves almost no room for rehabilitation for those in the system.

Can a juvenile crime fall under the Three Strikes law? Yes, depending on the circumstances of the case. However, this is only when a violent or serious felony has been committed or if the person was 16 or older when the offense took place. 

What does the prosecution have to prove in my case? They must prove the strike allegations beyond a reasonable doubt by looking at prior “strikes” and making their decision.

If you have been charged in a “Three Strikes” case, you may want legal representation on your side to get the best results. It is always worth it to try and fight your case to help you get your sentence reduced or appeal a strike, if possible. Call us to find out how we can help you.