Featured News 2018 Three Strikes & You’re Out: Criminal Policy in Question

Three Strikes & You’re Out: Criminal Policy in Question

America's Child

In October 1993, 12-year-old Polly Klaas was kidnapped during a Petaluma, CA slumber party. While she left her room to gather sleeping bags, she ran into a man who held her a knifepoint. Her two friends were tied up and Klaas was kidnapped. What ensued was a two-month search powered by over 4,000 volunteers. Eventually, the suspect was found, convicted of murder, and sentenced to death.

This case, however, did not just stop there. Due to the national coverage this case received, Klaas was called "America's Child" and the nation took her case to heart. Most of the fear stemmed from the nature of the attack—many parents felt insecure about their own homes, as Klaas was taken in the middle of a safe community.

The true fear, however, came from the fact that the convicted felon had been arrested 17 times before. In response, the public advocated for the "Three Strikes Law".

The Three Strikes Law

In 1994, voters in California voted and approved Proposition 184 – also known as the "Three Strikes, You're Out" ballot initiative. 'Vigilant' citizens felt strongly about the proposition because it could have prevented the murder of Klaas. Thanks to the proposition, convicted defendants are given three chances; if the defendant was convicted a felony two or more times, the penalties were significantly raised. If they were faced with a third conviction, they faced 25 years in prison.

In 2012, voters approved Proposition 36, which amended the 3 strikes law:

  • The defendant needs to have committed a serious or violent felony with two or more prior strikes to qualify for the 25 year-to-life sentence as a third strike offender.
  • The people currently serving a third-strike sentence may petition the court for reduction of their term to a second-strike sentence if they would have been eligible for second strike sentencing under the new law.

Although Proposition 36 now protects defendants with minor felonies, it is important for a defendant with multiple felony convictions to be aware of how the Three Strike Law affects their case. If you have been previously convicted two or more violent crimes or serious penalties in the past, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney today to provide legal advice and further information on how the Three Strike Law may affect you.

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