Are you facing a DUI charge in California? If you have previous convictions, you may be worried about the potential repercussions. Repeat offenders typically receive harsher punishments for additional convictions. Driving under the influence offenses can result in extensive jail time, hefty fines, and a permanent criminal record. Under some circumstances, DUI offenses can count toward California’s Three Strikes Law and result in severe penalties upon conviction. That’s when you need the help of one of our skilled DUI attorneys.
What is the “Three Strikes Law”?
In 1994, California’s Three Strikes Law was enacted to inflict harsher sentences upon defendants with prior felony convictions. Basically, if you have a previous felony conviction, you may receive a sentence that is twice as long as the normal term. In addition, if you have two or more “strikes,” you can receive a mandatory prison sentence of at least 25 years to life.
Recently, California Proposition 36 added two new provisions to the three strikes rule:
- If there are two or more prior strikes against a defendant, the new felony charge must be considered a serious or violent crime in order to qualify for the 25 year-to-life sentence as a third strike offender;
- Designated defendants currently serving a third strike sentence may petition the court for a reduction of their term, if their third strike would not qualify as a severe crime under the new law.
The amendments may benefit defendants of non-violent crimes. Even if you have prior felony convictions, you will not automatically be sentenced to 25 years to life if the new charges are for a minor offense. Whatever the situation is, you should seek help from an experienced San Diego DUI lawyer to get a clear understanding of the law.
Does California’s Three Strikes Law Apply to Me?
Generally, if you are found guilty of committing a serious, violent felony, you will receive a strike under the Three Strikes Law. According to California Penal Code 1192.7, examples of serious felonies include:
- Murder or voluntary manslaughter
- Lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age
- Bank robbery
- Any felony in which the defendant personally uses firearm with intent to cause harm
- Any felony in which the defendant inflicts great bodily injury on another person
You may be wondering if a DUI conviction counts as a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. In most cases, if you have a felony conviction due to an aggravated DUI crime, it will be considered as a strike. This is particularly true for DUI offenses that cause severe physical injury or death to someone else.
Prior criminal offenses can definitely negatively affect the outcome of your case, regardless of the circumstances. Consulting with an attorney who has a thorough knowledge of DUI laws and is familiar with California’s Three Strikes Law will be beneficial for any defendant facing a serious DUI charge.
A San Diego DUI Lawyer Can Help
California’s Three Strikes Law can be confusing to anyone without professional legal training. Driving under the influence cases can get especially complicated, depending on the nature and severity of the incident. You will need to hire the right attorney to help get your charges reduced or dismissed.
When you are arrested in the San Diego area, an experienced San Diego DUI lawyer may be able to:
- Assess whether or not your prior convictions will affect the outcome of your case
- Assess whether or not your new charges may count as an additional “strike”
- File a petition to reduce prior strikes under the new provisions
- Negotiate with the prosecutor or judge for reduced charges or lower sentencing
- Get your charges dropped due to insufficient evidence
Attorney Jessica McElfresh has years of experience in handling criminal defense cases in California. She has skill with handling complex issues including cases involving the Three Strikes Law, and will be able to fight on your behalf in court. The legal team at McElfresh Law is committed to providing the best possible defense and protecting your freedom.