Third strikes laws have been passed around the country in response to news reports of repeat violent offenders committing additional serious crimes that result in serious injury or death. While most people are happy that these laws have been passed, they may not realize that they can apply to lesser crimes like DUI. If you’ve been charged with DUI in California, here’s what you need to know about the California Three Strikes Law before you talk to a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles.
What Exactly is the California Three Strikes Law?
California’s Three Strikes Law delivers certain sentences to people who commit multiple serious and violent felonies including robbery, burglary, and crimes committed while using a firearm. If a person is convicted of three offenses covered under the law, they receive a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole only after 25 years.
In 2012, Proposition 36 amended the three strikes laws to revise which crimes warrant life sentences, authorize re-sentencing for those serving life sentences that they would not have received under the new law, and reaffirmed that certain non-serious, non-violent sex and drug offenses should still count as strikes.
How Does the Three Strikes Law Apply to DUI?
While most California DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors, some are considered felonies that fall under the Three Strikes Law. A DUI can be upgraded to a felony when a person has prior DUI convictions or if they were involved in an accident that led to death or serious injury. A conviction for DUI manslaughter will almost always result in a strike as will other felony DUIs involving injuries. Because prosecutors view all DUIs as having the potential to cause serious injuries, they will argue that a strike should apply on most felony DUIs, and harsh sentencing for a felony DUI is likely even if it doesn’t count as a strike.
In addition to a possible prison term and future third strike, someone convicted of DUI faces harsh civil penalties including license revocation, large fines, and having to pay court costs. A civil lawsuit is also possible if there was an accident. For these reasons, a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles will usually push to have a felony DUI charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
If your case falls under California’s Three Strikes Law, don’t try to navigate the court system alone. Even if it’s only your first or second offense, you don’t want to have a possible strike on your record because you never know what will happen in the future. To protect your rights, contact a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles as soon as possible.
Call Jon Artz today at (310) 820-1315 for a private consultation.