Every year in this state many people are sentenced to life in prison under California 3 strikes laws. As any criminal defense attorney will tell you, some of these sentences are unduly harsh and unjust given the nature and circumstances of the offense and the offender. Our own governor has declared that many people in prison in this state are there unnecessarily due to petty crimes. Just this week our high Court handed down a decision that curtails some of the draconian punishments that Judges impose. The following is a summary of the case courtesy of CCAP:
In People v. Vargas the defendant was convicted under CA three strikes law of a strike offense and the trial court sustained two prior strike allegations based on two 1999 convictions. Even though defendant’s two strike priors were based on the same act, committed at the same time, and against the same victim, the trial court denied her motion to dismiss one of the 1999 prior convictions. She was sentenced to a three-strike term of 25 years to life. The California Supreme Court granted review and opined “this is one of the extraordinary cases in which the nature and circumstances of defendant’s prior strike convictions demonstrate the trial court was required to dismiss one of them because failure to do so would be inconsistent with the spirit of the Three Strikes law.” Neither the electorate in its enactment of the Penal Code defining 3 strikes, nor the law makers could have intended that both such prior convictions would qualify as separate strikes under the Three Strikes law. The court disapproved a previous California criminal case to the extent it was inconsistent with the court’s decision. With this new decision attorneys will need to review both their present and past cases to determine whether any person sentenced in the past may qualify for relief under this new case. If you or someone you know was given a life sentence and they had 2 or more strikes that were the result of a single past case you should immediately find an experienced Torrance criminal defense lawyer to review the details and see if the person could be released upon successful Court action.