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In California, a felony is punishable by 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years, unless another penalty applies. For a violent felony, California applies the “three strikes” law. If a person has two prior felony convictions, a mandatory 25-year-to-life prison sentence is added to a third violent felony conviction. It is essential to contact an experienced lawyer.
What is a Felony?
A felony is more serious than an infraction or a misdemeanor. A felony can be a crime against property or a crime against a person — or sometimes a combination of both.
- Property crimes — These include embezzlement, fraud and theft. Some property crimes, such as arson and burglary, also involve violence or force.
- Violent crimes — This category includes a wide range of offenses. Aggravated assault, murder, robbery and carjacking are all violent felonies.
What is the “three strikes” law?
California voters adopted the “three strikes” law in 1994. Following some high-profile cases where the punishment was excessive for the crime committed, Proposition 36 was significantly scaled back in 2000 to include only multiple convictions for violent crimes. Despite continuing opposition, the law is still on the books. In some situations, the government prosecutor may agree to reduce the charge to a “non-strike” felony. It is our goal to negotiate a reduction in charges whenever possible.
Felony punishments and enhancements may apply
Many crimes can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the applicable enhancements. Enhancements are especially common when gang activity, a drug crime or another form of organized crime is involved. In these cases, your attorney may be able to have the charges reduced. The government automatically charges a person with the most serious crime possible, and the enhancements may not be supported by the facts. Some common punishments include:
- Confinement — You may be confined for more than one year. A fine of more than $1,000, court costs and related fees are usually assessed.
- Probation — Probation may be an alternative to confinement in many cases. Felony probation terms are strict, sometimes including up to one year in the county jail as a condition of probation.