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When Is a Juvenile Conviction Considered a “Strike” Under California’s Three Strikes Law?

January 5, 2020

Some serious crimes may be counted as a strike.

When Is a Juvenile Conviction Considered a “Strike” Under California’s Three Strikes Law?

California is well-known for its harsh “Three Strikes” sentencing scheme. Although the law has been updated — and made less draconian — since its initial passage, the basic scheme is the same. If you are convicted of three violent or serious felonies, you will be sentenced to 25 years to life in California state prison for the third strike. People who receive a second strike will receive double the sentence for the underlying crime under this law.

The goal of the Three Strikes law is to reduce the number of individuals who commit repeated violent or serious offenses — and to keep people who have a propensity for committing these crimes off of the street. Unfortunately, as a murder defense lawyer in Orange, CA can explain, in practice, this law often provides for unduly severe sentences for individuals.

In some cases, this may include juveniles. Under California law, in most cases, juveniles who commit crimes are sent to California’s juvenile court, rather than to regular criminal court. There, a juvenile is adjudicated with a sustained petition rather than convicted. Nevertheless, if you are a juvenile who has committed a serious or violent felony, it may count as a strike for purposes of the Three Strikes law.

If a juvenile has a sustained petition for a felony offense, it may be counted as a strike against their adult criminal record if:

  1. The conviction is considered a strike under California law for serious or violent felonies;
  2. The crime is listed in California Welfare and Institutions Code 707(b); and
  3. The juvenile was 16 years of age or older when the conduct occurred.

There are any number of convictions that may qualify as a strike if a juvenile has a sustained petition for the offense. This includes murder, arson, robbery, kidnapping, a lewd or lascivious act, rape with force, sodomy by force, voluntary manslaughter, and assault. A plea agreement or sustained petition for these and other offenses can be used against a juvenile if they commit another strike offense as an adult.

This makes it all the more important that your child have a seasoned murder defense lawyer in Orange, CA to represent them if they are charged with a serious or violent felony such as homicide. Even though the case is handled through the juvenile criminal justice system, it has the potential for lifelong ramifications. If you receive a strike as a juvenile, then a conviction or plea deal for any serious or violent felony as an adult will automatically result in a double sentence. A third strike will lead to a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

At the Chambers Law Firm, we represent juveniles who have been charged with any number of crimes, including murder and related offenses. If you or someone you love have been charged with murder, we can help. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation with a murder defense lawyer in Orange, CA.

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