In 1994, California voters passed Proposition 184 which enacted the criminal sentencing scheme known as the “Three Strikes” law. It is quite complicated but is most known for the idea that if you are convicted of your third strike (any felony offense when you have two or more previous strike convictions), you are to be sentenced to at least 25 years to life. If you are charged with any felony crime that could result in a strike, it’s highly recommended to work with an experienced Riverside criminal defense attorney.
A strike is a crime that is considered either “serious” or “violent”. The Penal Code classifies which crimes are “serious” or “violent” in the lists in Penal Code §§ 667.5(c) and 1192.7(c). This includes among other things: Murder, Manslaughter, Mayhem, Kidnapping, Robbery, Participation in a Criminal Street Gang, Carjacking, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Rape, Residential Burglary, Arson, and Criminal Threats.
A strike conviction can have a number of serious consequences including mandatory prison time and denial of good time credit. Just having one strike prior mandates state prison (absent particularly unusual circumstances) on any new felony conviction whether it is a strike or not, and it doubles the sentence length. Generally speaking, strikes are not removable from your record and could impact your future employment options. Talk with a Riverside expungements lawyer to discuss your options.
A Romero motion is pleading by the defendant’s defense team, asking the court to consider not allowing the prosecution to use the prior strikes in sentencing. If this motion is filed, the judge will consider:
A judge must also consider these factors while acting within the competency of a “reasonable judge” and may not dismiss the strike allegation for convenience, court congestion or because the defendant pleaded guilty.
The Romero motion originated in People v. Romero, where Jesus Romero was convicted of for possessing .13 grams of cocaine. This offense is generally punishable by no more than three years in prison; however, Romero was previously convicted of a felony burglary and attempted burglary, qualifying him for the three strikes law. In this scenario, the judge felt Romero did not deserve a mandatory life sentence for drug possession and “struck” Romero’s felony conviction. The judge’s decision was upheld by the California Supreme Court. Rather than life, Romero was sentenced to six years. This is still more than the maximum three years as the judge may still consider the previous felonies and past criminal record, but does not need to enforce the life sentence.
When a skilled defense attorney receives a strike case, they should asses whether filing a Romero motion is an option. It’s important to remember, however, that if a judge does accept the Romero motion and the dismisses the strike allegation the felony conviction does not disappear with it; the judge just does no longer has to enforce the maximum penalty under the three strikes law.
If you or a family member are charged with new a strike, or a new charge and have strike priors, the potential consequences could be dire. Swift action often times mean the difference between a short sentence and 25 to life.
At the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath, APC we have represented hundreds of individuals facing California’s Three Strikes sentencing scheme, and are skilled at handling serious or violent felonies. If you or a loved one are charged with a three strikes case, contact the Law Offices of Graham D. Donath, APC for superior representation that gets results.