The “Three Strikes” statute provides for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 25 years to life if convicted of three felonies that classify as “strikes.” Introduced in 1994, its goal is to create a “tough on crime” policy to eliminate recidivism. California’s criminal justice system considers repeat offenders difficult to handle because they can be difficult to reform.

The Three Strikes Law significantly extends prison terms with the idea that offenders will work to reform themselves to avoid an increased time behind bars. “Strikers” are removed from the streets for a longer period, which eases the minds of citizens. While most Californians know the Three Strikes Law exists, many people don’t know what it entails.

Strike one

There is no mandatory minimum sentence for the first strike.

Strike two

You will automatically serve twice the amount of time that the new offense calls for.

Strike three

Sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. This is regardless of the severity of the felony and the traditional criminal penalty imposed for that crime.

Examples of common serious strike crimes:

  • Murder
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Terrorist threats
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Attempted murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14
  • Certain drug-related crimes

There are many states that have implemented the three-strike law, and California has one of the most extensive three-strike punishments. A “serious felony” will automatically add a “strike” to the offender’s criminal record.

The law not only mandates a long prison sentence for those with three felony convictions, but also offenders with “two strikes.” This allows the court to sentence an offender to twice the length of imprisonment. Anyone sentenced under the Three Strikes Law is not eligible for probation and may not reduce their time in prison as easy as other prisoners through work and education credits.