In 2012, voters passed Proposition 36, which aimed to reduce the harsh punishment imposed on those who received a third strike for a non-violent or non-serious offense. Under California Three Strikes Law, a strike will be added to your criminal record if you are convicted of a serious or violent felony. If you are convicted of three of these crimes, you will face 25 years to life in prison.
Several questions remained regarding the Three Strikes Reform Act once it was passed. The Supreme Court of California recently decided on two cases that help clarify key issues regarding Prop. 36.
Clearing Up Prop. 36 Sentencing Guidelines
Confusion over Prop. 36 emerged regarding crimes that occurred between the date the crime was committed and the date the act passed. Many judges weren’t sure if they could resentence inmates whose three strikes involved a mix of serious and non-serious felonies.
In a recent decision, the court ruled that the classification of an offense as serious or violent for the purposes of the act is based on the date Prop. 36 was passed by the voters, which was Nov. 7, 2012 (People v. Johnson S219454). This means any crime that was considered a violent or serious felony before the act passed on Nov. 7, 2012 can still be considered a strike under California Three Strikes Law.
Another recent decision involved offenders who received strikes for each offense after being convicted of multiple charges resulting from the same incident. For instance, someone could be charged for first degree burglary, second degree burglary and resisting arrest all at the same time and receive all three strikes. The court considered whether someone who’s potential third strike was for a mix of serious and non-serious felonies was eligible for resentencing (People v. Machado S219819).
The court concluded that the Three Strikes Reform Act requires an inmate’s eligibility for resentencing be evaluated on a count-by-count basis. This means that resentencing is allowed when an offender received a strike for a crime that is neither serious nor violent, despite the presence of another charge that is serious or violent. Due to this ruling, those who were given a strike for a qualifying non-serious or non-violent felony charge may be able to seek early release from parole.
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