The California Three-Strikes Law was enacted in 1993 and the Van Nuys court has been prosecuting those cases ever since. At first, the Van Nuys head DA and the deputies had all the power when it came to the three-strike rules and filing cases it strikes. And then the Romero case came along and gave some of that power back to the judge. So, now as far as Van Nuys three-strike cases go, first you have to try to negotiate with the prosecutors if you’re trying to strike a strike for example or get rid of a strike and not make your client plead to the strike. If it’s a situation where the prosecutors are refusing to get rid of a prior strike and they’re trying to make you take a second or a third-strike case. The next move is you have to go to the judge. You file a Romero motion and you try to convince the judge to strike the strike or strikes for purposes of the new case so your client does not feel the brunt of the Three-Strikes Law. The judge is going to look at your client’s prior criminal record to see if he is a career offender who should be getting the Three-Strikes Law because of all the offenses he continues to commit. The judge is going to also look at the strike or strikes that you’re trying to strike – see how serious they are. See how long ago they were and then the Van Nuys judge will look at the current case and see how serious it is, what the danger is to the public.
So, these Three-Strike cases are serious. It really does take an Act of Congress to get the prosecutors to either get rid of a strike, to strike a strike or strikes. Their policy is in Van Nuys court that in order to strike a strike it has to be at least ten years old and that’s pretty much county-wide in Los Angeles. The District Attorney’s policy is the case has to be at least ten years old. Now, I’ve gotten cases struck that were less than ten years old, but of course, they’re also going to look at the other factors – how serious is the strike? Sometimes you have a juvenile strike – the person is sixteen or seventeen, no weapon used – that case is definitely one that would be ripe for getting struck by the prosecutors or judge. Other times, you have cases where the client really shouldn’t have pled to a strike, but they did because they wanted to get out of custody, so they took a probationary deal and took a strike on their record and then here they are again committing another felony. So, that’s a case that the prosecutors might consider striking or even a judge might consider.
But also, when considering whether to strike a strike in the Van Nuys court, they’re going to look at the current case. What happened in the current case? How dangerous was the current case? Was anybody injured or hurt? What type of impact did the current case have on society? A lot of times the current case is a ridiculous case where it really shouldn’t be a second strike case because these second strike cases the person is typically looking thirty-two months in prison at 80% or 85%. Really, that’s the low term on a felony, doubled sixteen months times two, for thirty-two months. That’s a horrible sentence, especially if you really didn’t do that much. I had a guy recently on a three-strikes case in Van Nuys court where the guy got a theft at Universal Studios of a pin, a $10.00 pin, but because his strike was so bad, he had a kidnapping strike which he served a bunch of prison time on, these guys basically were trying to make it a super strike and made it a second strike case for stealing a simple pin. Eventually, when we did the preliminary hearing in the Van Nuys court, the Van Nuys judge saw how ridiculous it was and ended up getting rid of the strike, letting the client just take a simple petty theft. We got him credit for time served because they had jacked his bail up pursuant to the three-strike law, the Van Nuys arraignment judge racked his bail up to like $200,000.00 and he couldn’t bail out.
So, it’s going to take somebody who knows the system and when you’re trying to strike a strike or get rid of a strike and not make a client plead to a strike, the Van Nuys prosecutors, for consistency sake, keep that power in the hands of the most-senior prosecutor. So, either the head DA, second in command or whoever is in command of the preliminary hearings at the time can make that decision as to whether to strike a strike. They’re not going to let just any prosecutor do it because what ends up happening is – you have defense attorneys saying – hey, you struck that strike, but why would you not strike this one – and they get themselves in a big problem. So, for consistency sake, striking a strike in the Van Nuys court is something that is reserved to the senior prosecutor.
So, unless you’re a local attorney like me who is in Van Nuys all the time fighting and battling cases, you are not going to know who to talk to, who has the power and what to say to them to get them to strike the strike in your client’s case in Van Nuys court. So, come in and sit down – if it’s your loved one that’s in trouble, let’s talk about it. I’ll go visit them in the county jail. We’ll go over their case. We’ll talk about everything and we’ll see what we can do about getting him out of custody as soon as possible and really dealing with this three-strike law as it relates to a Van Nuys criminal case.
For more information on Three-Strike Laws In Van Nuys, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (213) 542-0940 today.