What Is the Three Strikes Law?
In , California voters enacted the УThree Strikes and YouТre OutФ law in response to the tragic murders of Kimber Reynolds and Polly Klaas. The law imposed a life sentence for almost any crime, no matter how minor, if the defendant had two prior convictions for crimes defined as serious or violent by the California Penal Code. Application of Three Strikes Laws in Other States As seen in Table 1, in contrast to California and Georgia, fifteen states report six or fewer convictions under their versions of three strikes, and of these, three states report no convictions: Alaska (1), Colorado (2), Connecticut (1.
Many states have three strikes laws, also known as a three strikes rule. These laws impose harsher sentences on individuals who have been convicted of certain felonies three times. In most cases, the penalty upon the third conviction is a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
No, although both involve defendants convicted of multiple crimes, they are not the same. As noted above, three strikes laws apply to certain felonies. Habitual offender laws, on the other hand, can be applied on any subsequent offense after the first. These two laws do have similar goals. They serve to deter future similar behavior from the defendant. They are also an attempt to ensure repeat offenders receive appropriate sentences and serve sufficient time before being released on parole.
The application of both of these types of laws varies by state. The application of these laws can depend on factors including:. States began implementing these laws in the s in response to concerns that habitual violent offenders were being released from jails and prison too quickly and were back on the streets.
It can range from a longer sentence such as 10, 15, or 25 years to life in prison. In some states, a defendant is allowed the possibility of parole after a certain number of years served in a life sentence. However, in other states, parole is not an option. There is a lengthy list of states that have a third strike law. These include:. Three strikes laws can be viewed as controversial and it is common for states to repeal them.
Some states how to play roulette in las vegas amended them to only apply to certain serious felonies Delaware or to extend the number of strikes allowed to 4 Maryland. Many of these original three strikes laws did not allow a judge discretion and required a longer mandatory sentence. Many states have passed reforms eliminating mandatory longer sentences and giving the judge discretion to hand down a sentence that fits the particular crime and defendant.
Other common reforms include:. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of is a federal law enacted in that provides a three strikes law definition for federal laws. If a defendant is convicted of three serious felonies or crimes related to drug trafficking, they will receive a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
As noted above, a large number of states have passed three strikes laws for repeat offenders. Many of these states have some variation within the three strikes law. These variations may include:. Prior toCalifornia had what may have been the most severe three strikes law in the United States.
It was amended by proposition 36 and made less strict. Prior to this amendment, any felony conviction would trigger the mandatory sentence if the defendant already had 2 strikes. The amendment also made the law retroactive, allowing for the possibility of resentencing for defendants previously convicted of non-violent or non-serious felonies on their third strike. Despite this amendment, California still seriously punishes habitual offenders.
The law still provides for the possibility of a life sentence for certain non-violent third strike felonies. Additionally, the three strikes law in California applies to certain felonies committed when a defendant was a juvenile. The California law does not consider the length of time between convictions, so a third strike may apply even when previous felony convictions were many what county is poughkeepsie ny located in prior.
There are some criticisms of the three strikes legislation. The greatest of these is that in some what states have the 3 strikes law, the punishment received for a conviction is extremely disproportionate to what states have the 3 strikes law crime the defendant was convicted of. For example, if a law covers a broad range of crimes, a defendant can face many years in prison for a less serious felony conviction. If the three strikes law was not in effect, that defendant may have received a significantly shorter sentence for the same crime.
A third major criticism of three strikes laws is that some wobbler offenses may be included. These types of offenses can be considered as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Therefore, if a defendant has two previous felony convictions and is charged with a wobbler crime, the court has the discretion to consider the third crime as a felony.
This permits the court to impose a harsher sentence even if the crime committed would normally be classified as a misdemeanor. To compare, a defendant who is convicted of 2 felonies and a subsequent what color are hazel eyes really crime can be subject to the three strikes law.
However, a defendant who is convicted of a wobbler crime and then 2 subsequent felonies may not trigger the three strikes law, even though the crimes may have been exactly the same. This creates a discrepancy in sentencing. Because of the criticisms discussed above, many individuals do not favor three strikes laws. Some would like them to be abolished. Others would like to limit them to very serious felonies, including high level drug crimes and violent crimes.
A felony conviction can have serious and life-long consequences and possibly subject you to a three strikes law, even many years later. Additionally, three strikes laws vary greatly across the states. These laws carry very serious penalties for what are you waiting for fm static offenders.
An attorney can review the facts of your case, advise you on what laws apply to you, and represent you during any court proceedings. Jennifer Corbett. Jennifer joined LegalMatch in as a Legal Writer. She holds a J. She is a certified mediator and guardian ad litem. She holds a B. She is a stay-at-home mom and homeschool teacher of three children. She enjoys reading and long evening walks with her husband. Law Library Disclaimer. Can't find your category?
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Jan 21, †Ј The Eastern District of Virginia has developed an outline to assist in determining when a particular case is "Three Strikes"-eligible. A copy of that outline is Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins. Mar 10, †Ј Some of the offenses included in the Three Strikes Law are as follows: Armed robbery Assault and battery Human trafficking Kidnapping Murder or manslaughter Rape.
Official websites use. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. This is archived content from the U. Department of Justice website. The information here may be outdated and links may no longer function. Please contact webmaster usdoj. An important purpose of the Anti-Violent Crime Initiative is to work with our state and local counterparts to take violent criminals off the streets.
Under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of , we have a powerful new federal tool, the so-called "Three Strikes, You're Out" provision, to help us deal with violent repeat offenders. This provision should play a key role in every district's anti-violent crime strategy.
To help us make the most effective use possible of this potential tool, please ensure that state and local prosecutors are aware of the federal "Three Strikes" provision and your willingness to coordinate prosecutive decisions in cases that are "Three Strikes"-eligible.
You should have in place a referral mechanism, perhaps through your violent crime working group, to ensure that appropriate "Three Strikes" cases are presented to you for potential prosecution. In determining whether to bring prosecutions under this statute, you should be guided by the Principles of Federal Prosecution. Trial of an eligible defendant under "Three Strikes will often provide a more effective punishment than a prosecution under,other federal statutes.
For the state prosecutor, "Three Strikes" provides a vehicle to take the most dangerous offenders out of the community and keep them out. This is particularly important in states where prison overcrowding results in early release even for violent criminals. The "Three Strikes" statute is sufficiently important to our violence enforcement efforts that I want to underscore its key provisions. Under the federal "Three Strikes" provision, which is now codified at 18 U. Under the statute, a "serious violent felony" includes murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, kidnapping, robbery, and any offense punishable by 10 years or more which includes as an element the use of force or that, by its nature, involves a significant risk of force.
The statute also enumerates certain nonqualifying felonies, including unarmed robbery offenses and arsons that posed no threat to human life. An unarmed robbery offense may serve as a basis for "Three Strikes" sentencing if the offense involved the threat of use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon -or the offense resulted in death or serious bodily injury to any person.
If the government files in such a case, the defendant must establish by clear and convincing evidence that neither of those factors existed. An arson will not serve as the basis for "Three Strikes" sentencing if the defendant establishes by clear and convincing evidence that the offense posed no threat to human life and the defendant reasonably believed that it posed no threat to human life. A "serious drug offense" includes continuing criminal enterprise, violations of Title 21 involving distribution, manufacture, or possession with intent to distribute significant quantities of controlled substances, or equivalent state offenses.
There is a sequencing requirement in the statute: each offense relied upon, except the first, must have been committed after the conviction of the preceding serious violent felony or serious drug offense. The predicate convictions must be final. Sentencing under the statute is triggered by notice filed by the prosecutor with the court prior to trial or plea of guilty in accord with the procedures contained in 21 U.
S a. We suggest that you file notice only after receiving certified copies of the prior convictions or otherwise verifying the validity of the convictions on which you intend to rely. Section a of Title 21 requires the filing of an information with the court prior to trial or prior to the entry of a plea of guilty, stating in writing the convictions to be relied upon for sentencing.
A copy must be served on the defendant or counsel for the defendant. The statute does not apply to persons subject to the criminal jurisdiction of an Indian tribal government for offenses committed in Indian country where federal jurisdiction is predicated solely on Indian country, unless the governing body of the tribe has elected that the provision have effect over land and persons subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the tribe. Furthermore, you should aggressively use all available federal violent felony provisions, including the Hobbs Act, to achieve prolonged incarceration for "Three Strikes"-eligible defendants.
Under 18 U. While the Department has promoted use of the Hobbs Act robbery provision primarily in cases involving criminal organizations or gangs, you also should consider using it where a defendant's criminal history would support a life sentence under "Three Strikes. To assist us in evaluating how the "Three Strikes" provision is being used, please continue to notify Tom Roberts, in the Terrorism and Violent Crime Section, at , concerning potential "Three Strikes" cases.
When you file a "Three Strikes" case, please send an urgent report to the attention of the Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. We also anticipate that there may be issues arising under the "Three Strikes" provision that will be litigated in district courts and U.
The Criminal Division is available to assist you in handling these matters. In any event, please coordinate your positions on issues that are less than clear-cut with the Terrorism and Violent Crime Section to ensure consistency and enable us to develop policy positions as needed. The Eastern District of Virginia has developed an outline to assist in determining when a particular case is "Three Strikes"-eligible.
A copy of that outline is attached for your convenience. The Hobbs Act also prohibits an attempt or conspiracy to commit such a robbery. Responsibilities Of Investigative Agencies up KidnappingЧ18 U.
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