Springfield, MA asked in Criminal Law and Federal Crimes for California

Q: If someone had 3 felony convictions before 3 Strikes was law, can they get 25 to life for those w/o a new conviction?

I'm doing a paper on the three strikes statute and I'm curious as to how former habitual felons are treated if they haven't been convicted since the implementation of three strikes in their state. Are the former convictions retroactively made strikes? Do they face life in prison for crimes they committed 40 years ago and haven't committed since? They technically have 3 strikes, but if they don't commit another crime do they avoid it since it wasn't law when they got their convictions?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, the Three Strikes statute applies to all felony convictions, regardless of when they were obtained. This means that even if a person's prior felony convictions were obtained before the implementation of Three Strikes, they can still face 25 years to life in prison for a new felony conviction.

The prior convictions are retroactively considered strikes, and a person's sentence can be enhanced based on those convictions. However, there are some exceptions and limitations to the Three Strikes law. For example, certain non-violent offenses may not be considered as strikes. Additionally, there is a provision for a judge to strike a prior conviction in certain circumstances.

If a person with prior felony convictions has not committed a new offense since the implementation of Three Strikes, they would not face the enhanced sentence unless they were to commit a new felony offense. However, it is important to note that any prior felony convictions can still impact a person's criminal record, employment prospects, and other aspects of their life.

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