What Crimes Are Strikes under California’s Three Strikes Law?

Posted by Ronald D. HeddingMay 11, 2023

The simple answer to the question of what crimes are considered strikes is that serious and violent felonies are considered strikes.

What Crimes Are Strikes under California’s Three Strikes Law?

To look at the list of those strikes, you have to look at Penal Code 667.5 PC, which talks about violent felonies, and Penal Code Section 1192.7, which talks about serious felonies.  Some examples of violent felonies include the following:

The worse of the two, of course, are violent felonies.  You'll serve 85% of any time if convicted of a violent felony.  Also, when it comes to your credit for a violent felony strike, you only get 15% of whatever actual time that you've done.

For example, if you've done 100 days, you get sentenced for a conviction for a violent felony, you'll get the 100 days, plus you'll get another 15 days of good time/work time.  If, on the other hand, you don't plead guilty to a strike or if you plead guilty to a serious felony, which is a strike, you get 50% of your time. 

For example, you get your time doubled up. So in our example, if you have 100 days, you get another 100 days on top of credit towards your crime. So obviously, first and foremost, you don't want to get convicted of a violent felony because you serve more of the time and you get less of the credit. 

What Are Serious Felonies?

There is also a long list of serious felony crimes in California, such as the following:

So, that gives you an idea if you look up those two Penal Code Sections that list all of the first strikes. One of the big things I'm doing is trying to avoid strikes for people, either through a not-guilty verdict or getting the case dismissed, or if they're good for a crime, then try to negotiate something other than a strike.

What is the One Strike Law in California?

California's one-strike law, Penal Code 667.61 PC, will increase prison sentences for certain sex crimes. It's known as the “one strike law” because longer sentences apply on a first conviction.

The one-strike law applies to anyone convicted of certain crimes with certain aggravating factors, such as in the following offenses:

  • Penal Code 261 PC - rape,
  • Penal Code 288 PC – lewd acts with a minor,
  • Penal Code 288.5 PC – continuous sexual abuse of a child,
  • Penal Code 287 PC – oral copulation.

The aggravating factors that apply to a one-strike law sentence include causing bodily harm to the victim, having prior convictions, and using a weapon.

Case Example

A perfect example is somebody who goes into a store, steals merchandise for less than $100.00, and leaves.  Usually, that person will not get charged with robbery and won't even get charged with grand theft

They are probably going to get hit with some petty theft.  But, where they can turn that charge into a big problem is if, during the escape, somebody from the store tries to stop them and they use force or violence towards that person. 

Now the case turns into a robbery, and the person is facing prison time, facing a violent felony and serving 85% of the time with the less credit we discussed.

How Can You Avoid a Strike?

So, if you or a loved one is charged with a crime, it's a first strike; we want to ensure we get something less than a strike if we can't beat the case. For a robbery example, we can get a Penal Code Section 487(c) PC, a grand theft person.  That's not a strike.  Even if you have to plead to a felony, it can later be reduced to a misdemeanor. 

If you got any jail time, it would be served at half-time, and you're also a lot less likely to get jail time if you don't get convicted of a strike.

The bottom line is that we have to look at your specific facts and circumstances to see whether or not you can avoid that first strike pursuant to the California Three Strikes Law.  You need the best. You've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  Let me put my 30 years of experience to work for you.