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Haddonfield Criminal Lawyer Discusses the NJ Three Strikes Law

In order to keep persistent offenders off the streets, many states have enacted what are known as “Three Strikes and You’re Out” laws or habitual offender laws. In states that have enacted these laws, anyone who is convicted of three felonies can receive a prison sentence of 15 or 25 years to life. In some states, judges do not have discretion whether to impose such a long sentence, because legislation makes it mandatory for anyone convicted of a “third strike.”

About half of the fifty states have adopted some type of three-strike law, including New Jersey. Most were enacted in the 1990s. In most states, a “strike” is any conviction for a serious or violent felony. Some examples of crimes that constitute a strike include:

  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Weapons offenses
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual offenses, including rape and child molestation
  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Offenses involving explosives
  • Assault

However, in some states, even nonviolent crimes can land a person in jail for 25 years to life if it is their “third strike.” In California, a man was sentenced to life in prison for stealing videotapes from a grocery store. Although this crime generally carries a sentence of several months in jail, because he had two prior felonies, the shoplifting conviction earned him a lifelong prison sentence. The United States Supreme Court upheld his sentence on appeal.

Some states, such as California, consider juvenile felony convictions as strikes. So if someone is convicted of a felony when they are 15 years old, then later goes on to commit two felonies as an adult, they may potentially face life in prison.

Recently, some states have reformed these laws requiring excessive and severe penalties. In 2012, California voters passed Proposition 36, which required that a third strike be a violent felony. The Proposition also allowed for the resentencing of those who were currently serving extended sentences for non-violent third strikes. Now that many states have had these laws on the books for over twenty years, the effects are starting to be evident. Evidence shows that the biggest impact of the three-strikes laws has been on lower-level criminals, contrary to the laws intended purpose—keeping the most violent offenders off the streets.

Haddonfield Criminal Lawyer Michele Finizio Represents Individuals with Prior Convictions in NJ

The efficacy of New Jersey’s three-strikes law has been called into question. If you or someone you love has been convicted of prior offenses and are facing new charges, a Haddonfield criminal lawyer at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio can help. The Law Offices of Michele Finizio are located in Moorestown, New Jersey in the Cherry Hill area. We represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Mercer County, Gloucester County, Cape May County and Salem County. Call us today at 609-230-0374 or contact us online.

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I could not have asked for a better attorney. Michele Finizio treated my cases and the cases of those I've recommended, as if we were part of her family.

-D.A.