Prop 36

Do you need representation in a “three strikes” case?

On November 6 of 2012, California voters overwhelmingly—by a more than 2-to-1 margin—approved Proposition 36, which made significant modifications to California’s long-standing “Three Strikes” criminal sentencing law.

Back in 1994, Californians passed—also by an overwhelming margin— Proposition 184, the “Three Strikes Initiative” that strengthened an already-existing three-strikes law that had recently been passed by the state legislature. Essentially, a three-strikes law is one that imposes mandatory sentencing for extended terms (usually life) for individuals convicted of a felony for the third time. The idea is that recidivists—that is, convicts that return to a life of crime despite having served prison terms as punishment—should be incarcerated permanently in order to prevent them from committing even more crimes upon release. Although 24 states have three-strikes laws, they differ in many respects, usually by defining certain crimes that must qualify in order to be a “strike.”
Right away, California’s Proposition 184 became one of the most stringent three-strikes sentencing laws in the country: it doubled the existing penalty for a second felony if the first was serious or violent, and carried a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life for a third felony. Unlike some other three-strikes laws, the third felony did not have to be serious or violent in order for the three-strikes law to be applied.

As a result of the three-strikes law, however, many “non-violent” offenders were incarcerated and serving life sentences for what seemed like relatively minor felonies. Nonetheless, the California Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law in 2003, in a case in which a felon earned a life sentence by committing a non-violent third felony of stealing $150 of video tapes. In total, it is estimated that roughly 8,800 of California’s prisoners are currently serving life sentences as a result of Proposition 184’s sentencing provisions.
However, on November 6, 2012, California’s passage of Proposition 36 changed all that. Not only does Proposition 36 revise current law to impose a life-sentence only for those offenders whose third felony conviction is for a “serious or violent” crime, but it allows for the re-sentencing of those offenders who are currently serving life sentences as a result of Proposition 184’s three-strike provisions if the third felony did not meet the “serious or violent” requirement of the new law, with some exceptions. These exceptions include convictions for certain non-serious, non-violent sex or drug crimes, crimes involving firearm possession, or felons whose first two felony convictions were for child molestation, rape, or murder.

This means that some convicted felons who were sentenced as a result of the old three-strikes law may now be eligible for resentencing, and, depending upon how much time they have already served of their existing sentences, some inmates may be able to obtain immediate release.This law office can assist you if you or someone close to you may be eligible for re-sentencing under the new law.

As a result of the passage of Proposition 36, it is estimated that roughly 3,000 California prison inmates who are currently serving life terms as a result of Proposition 184’s provisions are now eligible for a review of their sentence, and may petition a court for a new sentence.

If you or someone close to you has been sentenced as a result of the former three-strikes law, I can assist you. Not only can I determine whether you, your spouse, sibling, parent, child, or friend are eligible for re-sentencing, but I can represent you or these individuals at every stage of the process by filling out the required forms and applications in the applicable county, negotiating with the local District Attorney for a review and recommendation, petitioning the court, and presenting the case.

I have extensive experience and knowledge of all of the provisions of Proposition 184’s three-strike provisions, as well as the new provisions of Proposition 36 and each of the crimes they reference in defining sentencing guidelines and re-sentencing eligibility. I can make sure that your Proposition 36 petition proceeds as smoothly and as quickly as possible through the system.

If you need help on a Proposition 36 petition, call me in Sacramento for a consultation, or, use our online inquiry form right here on this webpage. Our Sacramento office can easily serve clients in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, San Joaquin, and Yolo Counties. I am available to answer your call 24 hours a day, and I can respond promptly with your inquiry regarding eligibility for Proposition 36’s re-sentencing provisions.

Prop 36 and Diversion

Prop 36, Diversion, and Drug Reality

Other than speeding, disobeying drug law may be the most common infraction committed by otherwise law-abiding citizens. The reasons are obvious; we are in a hurry and we want to feel good, or at least better. For many people, certain drugs, illegal or not are how they cope with life. Until they can get the proper help and rehabilitation, no amount of prison will keep them from reverting back to life’s little helper when they get out.

When punishment doesn’t work

Prop 36 recognizes that many people who are addicted to drugs need help more than punishment. For repeat offenders, conditions have been set that allow for rehabilitation.
There are many limitations and exclusions on Prop 36:

  • It is not available if the accused has a prior strike conviction within the last 5 years. During those 5 years there must be no new prison commitments or convictions of non-drug felonies or violent misdemeanors
  • It is not available if there is another non-drug misdemeanor or felony conviction in the same case
  • It is not available if the accused, while using a firearm, possessed or was under the influence of certain drugs
  • It is not available if the accused refuses to participate in drug treatment as a term of his or her probation
  • It is not available if the accused has participated in two or more separate courses of treatment and whom the court declared not amenable to drug treatment

If you are a first time offender, the court may offer you a diversion program where rehab is available without some of the restrictions of Prop 36.

What This Means To You

If you are charged with a drug crime, I will explore every option available to you under Prop 36 and the Diversion Program. If you are addicted to an illegal substance, then getting you into a proper treatment program is important. The state of California recognizes this. This is your chance to get help. I will help you through the process, just contact DWB Law today for a thorough consultation.