Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
What it the Three Strikes Law?
If you have prior criminal convictions for offenses considered strikes and you are charged with new crime California’s 3 strikes law dictates that mandatory and extended sentences be applied for any conviction of additional strike charges.
How are Strikes Applied?
Generally speaking, a serious violent crime conviction almost always turn into a strike. The prosecutor will almost always allege a second or third strike, even if the crime is unrelated, or if the prior crime is occurred a long time ago (10 -15 is not uncommon) for serious violent crimes. Even a minor offense can turn into a strike and cause extended jail time (and possibly a life sentence) in many circumstances where a violent crime is involved.
How Do Strikes Affect Sentencing?
A prior criminal conviction can be used as strike, and each strike that is alleged can increase the amount of punishment against you. Any amount of strikes reduces the possibility of a no-jail time sentence.
For example if you are facing a crime where 2 years is the median sentence leveling, having prior strikes may make this median sentencing 4 or 5 years. Even if probation was option for the original charge, having a prior strike makes it very difficult to avoid jail or prison.
Can Convictions That Occurred as Minor Count as Prior Strike Offense?
Yes, convictions as minor can count against you as a strike and follow you into adulthood. A misconception exists about sealed records. Your record as a minor may be sealed against viewing by employers, schools, and the general population. However, records are not sealed to prosecutors and the courts they will know what your criminal history is and may use these facts in forming strike-related arguments and sentencing.
Can Crimes Committed in Other States Count Against You as Strikable Offenses?
Yes, they can. There is a National Crime Investigation System and also other database resources with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. These databases have become more and more well-linked to local and state databases and today it is rare that a prior serious offense not be recognized because it occurred outside of the current jurisdiction or state. However, minor crimes sometimes are not spotted early in the prosecutor’s investigative process therefore, it may to your advantage to workout your case prior to out-of-state issues becoming a factor in the prosecution’s handling of your situation.
How Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Deal with Prior Strikes?
One goal of a criminal defense attorney is to minimize the defendant’s exposure to punishment for any alleged crime. Whether you find yourself in a postilion of a newly alleged prior strike, or you have multiple prior strikes, there are a number of strategies that one can employ to reduce the number of strikes you are facing, or to eliminate them as strikes as factors in the prosecution. Things to consider:
- How your present case differs in character compared to your prior strike cases.
- How long ago your prior strike took place.
In dealing with the prosecution and alleged charges, sometimes common sense prevails, but other times strong negotiations skills can be used to minimize or reduce the possible punishment of an alleged criminal charge. Other times a Romero motion is filed with courts to try to reduce the type and length of sentencing.
What is a Romero Motion?
A Romero motion is a pleading by the criminal defense for the court itself to consider not allowing the prosecution to allege the prior strikes in sentencing. The court will consider each of the factors above, as well as additional arguments. The goal being that the court finds that sending you to prison for your presently charged offenses is not in the best interest of the court and society. Should the court rule in your favor of removing all prior strikes, your criminal defense attorney would then ask the court for an indicated sentence: what kind of punishment the court would be willing to offer. This takes the punishment outside of the prosecutor, who is not interested in giving you a second chance.
What is the Best Case Sentencing Scenario if a Romero Motion Has Been Filed?
If successful, a Romero motion designates one or more prior strike offenses as non-strikes. This may also may remove the strike designation from current charge and may allow for the possibility of probation if convicted by a jury trial or if guilty plea entered for the current charge. A prison or jail sentence may be avoided. This is dependent upon the criminal charge, as not all charges have the possibility of probation.
If a Romero Motion Was Filed in the Past Does it Make a Difference?
No – Romero motions are not a one time deal. Different cases, different judges, different courts and the skills of the attorney can make a big difference. A Romero motion only applies to your current charges that are being argued in the criminal courts.
Does the Possibility of a Romero Motion Affect Negotiations with the Prosecutor?
The individual aspects of your case affect prosecutor’s strategy and willingness to negotiate prior to a criminal trial. Once in trial, Romero motions can be objected by the prosecution, but the Judge does have ruling authority. However, since sentencing guidelines tend to drastically drop if a Romero motion is granted a prosecutor may keep this in mind prior to deciding to go to trial.
Does Filing a Romero Motion Add Time to the Process of Criminal Case?
If you are in custody, you may accumulate time served while the judge makes a decision regarding the Romero motion; this time served can apply to your sentence (reduced or mandatory). If you are out of custody, the amount of time it takes to for the judge to rule on the Romero motion will not apply to your prison or jail sentencing.
Are There Costs Related to Filing a Romero Motion for Removing Strikes?
Normally the costs are included in a typical trial retainer. The right time for a Romero motion is during the early trial phase after the preliminary hearing. A positive outcome from a Romero motion will often yield a substantially better resolution to your case. Your criminal defense attorney should explain all costs to you during your discussions.
The Benefits of an Experienced Attorney in Romero Motions
Many attorneys may either be unaware of Romero motions, or they may be unwilling to go through the trouble of filing and arguing a motion. It is important to recognize when a filing a motion is appropriate and an experienced criminal defense attorney knows what facts are key to the decision on filing a motion. Filing and arguing a Romero motion may be very beneficial if successful and granted by the criminal court judge, your strike-related charge can be lowered to a sentence involving less incarceration time, or even probation instead of jail or prison.
Contact Los Angeles criminal defense Attorney Daniel R. Perlman for assistance with your criminal defense matters. Experienced with the defense of strike-related charges and Romero motions. Call 213-514-8324.