Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Los Angeles Three Strike Laws and 7 Cent Felonies

Posted on: August 30, 2011 at 12:08 a.m.

For the most part, the news lately has been about how serious crimes are getting swept under the rug or not punished as harshly as some people would like. A recent case highlights just how over the top some judges and juries are when prosecuting people. With Three Strikes penalties in California, it is vital to keep track of how courts are punishing people for seemingly small crimes. In fact, with the ultimate penalty being decades in prison, having a Los Angeles Three Strikes Crime Attorney working for you is absolutely necessary. A case in Syracuse, NY saw a young man go to juvenile detention for the next two to six years for stealing 7 cents. You read that correctly, he stole a total of 7 cents, not enough to buy anything, and a judge sentenced him to years in correctional facilities. He will also spend the rest of his life with a felony on his record. A judge rejected the defense lawyer's request to treat the young man as a minor, meaning his felony conviction will follow him permanently according to the local Syracuse newspaper. In fact, the judge went so far as to say the boy would have been treated as a minor if the defense attorney had told him to plead guilty (which his accomplice did). This highlights why it is so important to have a qualified Three Strikes Crime Attorney defending you whenever you are facing serious felony charges.

According to witnesses, the two young men were found guilty of robbery in July after attacking a 73 year old man, running up behind the victim, knocking him to the ground and kicking him until his glasses broke. The victim handed the two youths 7 cents. While the actions of the two young men are terrible, one has to ask if they truly warrant years in prison and a lifetime of being considered a felon. The judge seems to have overstepped his bounds, leaving the young man permanently marked by his crime. With a skilled Los Angeles Three Strikes Crime Attorney the young man may have been able to avoid the penalty.

If you or someone you know needs a Three Strikes Crime Lawyer then contact Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin, LLP. With over 50 years of combined experience, and a long track record of success, our attorneys can provide the kind of defense necessary to the great results. Call us today at 877-781-1570.

Tagged as: three strikes laws

Three Strikes in Los Angeles

Posted on: May 8, 2009 at 6:28 a.m.

Many people wonder how it's possible for someone to get a Three Strikes penalty that leads to decades in prison. People might reason that after one or two felonies, an individual might do their best to shy away from any serious offense. However, even the most well intentioned individuals can have serious problems with the law and as a result, potentially have Three Strikes issues.

For example, famed 24 actor Keifer Sutherland is in for another round of legal trouble as news outlets report that he turned himself in to the New York Police Department after an incident in a New York bar with fashion designer Jack McCullough early Tuesday morning. Sutherland reportedly head-butted McCullough, with some sources saying the force of it broke the designers nose. Witnesses say Sutherland was highly intoxicated before McCullough, who owns half of the Proenza Schouler fashion house, reportedly stepped between Sutherland and someone he was chatting with, prompting an argument. Sutherland turned himself in to face third-degree misdemeanor charges. No date has been set for Sutherlands arraignment yet and no mention as to whether the incident would be classified as assault or battery.
Sutherland has a few alcohol-related criminal convictions behind him. In 2007 Sutherland spent 48 days in a Los Angeles County jail after being convicted on a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge. Sutherland had had a similar arrest in 2004 after failing a sobriety test. While it is still too early to say with certainty, it looks as though Sutherland will most likely be facing potential jail time, probation, fines and possibly counseling as punishment for his crimes. The actors best shot at avoiding more jail time will likely be proving a lack of intent.

This is how an individual can "rack up" strikes under California's Three Strikes laws. In Los Angeles, people have gong to jail for stealing a slice of pizza and a VHS tape, with those penalties counting as third strikes. It's vital that if you're facing a Three Strikes penalty, you call a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who understands Three Strikes laws and Three Strikes penalties. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney knows the difference and can fight to defend you.
If you have been charged and are facing a Three Strikes violation, contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin today. Their combined 50 years of courtroom experience gives them the insight to fight criminal charges and find the best possible outcome for your case.

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Three Strikes, A Sad History

Posted on: October 2, 2008 at 11:32 a.m.

California's Three Strikes Law has ruined the lives of many individuals. Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys who have spent any amount of time defending the accused have seen individuals sentenced to decades in prison for crimes that, if committed by themselves, wouldn't make anyone bat and eyelash.

Here is a short list of those serving long prison sentences for violating the third strike:

Rene Landa
Sentence: 27 years to life for stealing a spare tire

Johnny Quirino
Sentence: 25 years to life for petty theft of razor blades

Keffer Runnels
Sentence: 25 years to life for petty theft

Thomas Williams
Sentence: 25 years to life for possession of a stolen bicycle

George Michael Lane
Sentence: 25 years to life for possession of $40 worth of roommate's jewelry

David Lynn Robinson
Sentence: 25 years to life for attempted forged check and forged check

By themselves, these crimes would garner little, if any, jail time. Most are petty theft offenses, and many others who are in jail violated minor crimes to receive their life sentence. Others who have received a third strike are in jail even though they are mentally disabled in one way or another. People who find themselves facing a potential third strike conviction need Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys who know the ins and outs of the law, and who can give them expert advice. Many of those in jail didn't know their rights, or the potential cause of being convicted of a third strike offense.

While various community and civic organizations have fought to reform, or even repeal the mandatory sentencing guidelines of the Three Strikes laws, California State Attorney General Jerry Brown has fought for tougher laws to keep criminals off the streets by imposing a strict curfew for those who have committed serious crimes at night and was a leader in the campaign to defeat Proposition 66 - an attempt to dismantle California's three strikes law.

In fact, the Three Strikes laws are growing, there's a new proposition piggy-backing onto the Three Strikes penalties:

Proposition 6

What it does: Commits close to 1% of the state's annual general fund budget for anti-crime programs. The state Legislative Analyst's Office estimates costs of $500 million for additional prison space.

Back story: This is the Son of Three Strikes and Jessica's Law. It's sponsored in part by Mike Reynolds, author of the 1994 Three Strikes Initiative, and state Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster), whose anti-sex-offender Proposition 83 -- Jessica's Law -- won 71% of the vote in 2006. The top donor is Henry T. Nicholas III, who gave $1 million (see Proposition 9).

Tagged as: three strikes laws

Three Strikes Legislation Updates

Posted on: August 21, 2008 at 10:37 a.m.

In California, and throughout the rest of the nation, legislatures are updating the laws and sentencing structures of their Three Strikes rules, often making them more rigid. Below are some updates on activities in and out of California that are changing the laws regarding Three Strikes legislation:

- There was an effort this year in California, where a local group of families gathered signatures to try and get a measure on the November ballot that would amend California's Three Strikes Law. The main difference in the amended version is sentencing for those who commit a non-violent or non-serious offense as their third strike. Persons whose third strikes are non-violent or non-serious will be eligible for re-sentencing, rather than life in prison.
- Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill that will strengthen the state's Three Strikes law to include felony offenses from other states. This means that Californians now have to be aware of laws in other states regarding Three Strikes, not just California.
- In Connecticut, the Judiciary Committee voted against one Three Strikes proposal, by a 25-16 vote, that called for mandatory life sentences for third time offenders.
- Last year in Ohio, the senate had hearings on a bill that would permit judges to lock up repeat felons for twice as long as current law allows. Judges could hand down maximum sentences without explanation for a second offense in any felony case. And criminals headed to prison for at least the third time could see their time doubled under a so-called Three Strikes provision.
- States, such as Indiana, are applying Three Strikes sentencing structures to immigration infractions for both individuals and companies.
- Foreign entities, including Canada, France and the European Union are all considering variations on "Three Strikes" sentencing rules.

If you are seeking counsel on a Three Strikes felony violation, contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP.

Tagged as: three strikes laws

Three Strikes Laws: 14 Years and Counting

Posted on: August 15, 2008 at 2:26 p.m.

Three strikes laws are statutes enacted by state governments in the United States which require the state courts to hand down a mandatory and extended period of incarceration to persons who have been convicted of a serious criminal offense on three or more separate occasions. While the three strikes laws were designed to be a deterrent to criminals, the general trend of crime in America is the same in states without three strikes statutes as they are in states with them.

The increased incarcerations have filled California's prisons to the brim. As of 2007, the system holds over 170,000 prisoners in custody in a system designed for 83,000, and most California prisons currently hold populations more than double their design capacity.

In fact, the constant protest regarding Three Strikes Law doesn't just come from activists and alleged criminals. Hon. Jesse W. Curtis, who passed away on August 5, was a judge for 40 years in the U.S. District Court for Central California before stepping down over the rigid Three Strikes sentencing guidelines. It has been proven that the three strikes laws are not deterrents to crime at all, since as many as 70% of those sent to prison, once released, will recycle back within three years. Obviously there is a disconnect.

Another flaw in the Three Strikes system is how violent and non-violent offenders are treated with the same set of laws. Thieves and rapists face the same punishment. Even crimes that may fall under the same umbrella are prosecuted in the same manner, for example:
- Michael James is serving 25 years to life under the three-strikes law for passing a bad check for $94.
- Michael Schneider is serving 28 years for stealing $43 million from 57 investors.
- Santos Reyes, George Anderson, Linda Susan Teague, Gary Ewing and Leandro Andrade are serving a total of 176 years, and the most serious criminal among them is Ewing. He stole three golf clubs.

Bias in the courts can lead to other serious violations of justice. Recently, a man who was convicted of stabbing and wounding his mother in a 1998 trial and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison under the three-strikes law because of previous felony convictions, was granted a new trial by a federal appeals court, which said the prosecutor removed at least one black juror for racial reasons. How many other prisoners are serving decades long prison sentences because they stole two pizzas, were at the wrong place at the wrong time or simply had a skin color that was too dark?

If you or someone you know is facing a Three Strikes violation, contact the attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP.

Tagged as: three strikes laws

California Three Strikes Laws: A Mine Field

Posted on: July 21, 2008 at 9:21 a.m.

In 1994, California enacted the infamous Three Strikes Laws which handed down mandatory and extended periods of incarceration to persons who have been convicted of a serious criminal offense on three or more separate occasions. Since that time, prison populations have increased 25%, showing they have not been any real deterrent to crime.

Under the Three Strikes Laws, the state punishes shoplifting and similar crimes as felony petty theft if the person who committed the crime has a prior conviction for any form of theft, including robbery or burglary. As a result, some defendants have been given sentences of 25 years to life in prison for such crimes as shoplifting golf clubs (Gary Ewing, previous strikes for burglary and robbery with a knife), nine videotapes (Leandro Andrade, previous strikes for home burglary), or, along with a violent assault, a slice of pepperoni pizza from a group of children (Jerry Dewayne Williams, four previous non-violent felonies, sentence later reduced to six years). It's almost as if the state uses prior convictions to imprison people they no longer want to prosecute or deal with, regardless of circumstances.

California also counts as strikes offenses in any of the other 49 states, as well as Federal crimes. Results of the Three Strikes Laws are incredibly unfortunate, both for the convicted and the tax payer. As of 2007, the California prison system, which is designed to hold 83,000, holds 170,000 inmates.

Throughout the years, various media outlets have investigated the gross negligence in the California prison system, as well as the affects the Three Strikes Laws have had on individuals and communities. California citizens have even attempted to pass laws adjusting the Three Strikes rules, however the propositions have failed in 2004 and 2000.

The attorneys at Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin, LLP are experienced with Three Strikes Laws, their consequences, and how to manage the system and situation that defendants find themselves in.

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