An Orange County man was granted a release from a state prison where he had been serving 25 years to life after being convicted of a third “strike” offense back in 1999. Robert Rudy Lozano, who is now 48 years old, had previously been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in 1985 after beating a man to death with a baseball bat following an argument, as well as first-degree burglary and second-degree robbery in 1992. Lozano was convicted in 1999 of the unlawful taking of a vehicle, but had been arrested multiple times since 1984, when he was first arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance. Lozano has had multiple misdemeanor convictions for drug offenses, and had also recently tested positive for morphine, in spite of the fact that he is incarcerated. Under the state’s “Three Strikes” legislation, Lozano had been sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison after his 1999 conviction, but Proposition 36, a ballot initiative which was passed in 2012, allows some of the people affected by the three strikes laws to petition for release if their third strikes were not considered a serious or violent crime. Lozano had petitioned for release earlier this year under Proposition 36, but his request had been denied. Lozano petitioned a second time more recently citing poor health as he suffers from hepatitis C and had been diagnosed with end-stage liver disease. Lozano claimed that he had taken the morphine to combat the pain from his illnesses and had been prescribed the drug, which is a powerful pain medication, by doctors while in prison. The approval of Proposition 36 by voters last year is sure to send shockwaves through the California criminal justice world for quite some time. The Orange County District Attorney’s office alone has received more than 100 petitions for the release of prison inmates since it was passed. Tough Three Strikes legislation passed in the mid-1990s allowed for people convicted of three eligible offenses to be punished with life in prison. One of the provisions of Three Strikes laws included enhanced penalties for repeat offenders, meaning that seemingly less significant criminal convictions such as theft that would not normally have been considered a strike offense were bumped up to strike-level offenses for anyone with a prior strike conviction. The overall effect of this is that many, many people ended up being sentenced to life in one of the state’s infamously overcrowded and underserved prison facilities. Proposition 36 seeks to address some of that unfairness and release certain people if their third strike conviction meets certain criteria.
Tagged as: california three strikes law, theft, three strikes laws
A Kentucky man allegedly went on a crime spree in the city of Nashville, Tennessee late last month, committing as many as 10 felony criminal offenses in just nine hours. William Todd, who is just 24 years old, reportedly took a Greyhound bus into Nashville and, first broke into a local business called the Slaughterhouse, where he stole a Taser, a revolver, a shotgun and a T-shirt before allegedly setting the building on fire. Todd then made his way over to a local bar where he help up four bar patrons at gunpoint, using the Taser on one person and pistol-whipping another and making off with several credit cards. Todd then is said to have used one of the guns he stole to steal a taxi from a taxi driver and driving away. Todd found a local Wal-mart and used the stolen credit cards to purchase nearly $200-worth of merchandise. Todd then allegedly broke into a law office and vandalized it, defecating on a desk and even smearing his own feces on framed law degrees on the wall. Todd is then accused of robbing several local hotel guests after posing as a female housekeeper and robbing them at gunpoint. By some accounts, Todd cried as he robbed some hotel guests. Inexplicably, Todd managed to shave his head while at the hotel before leaving and crashing his stolen taxi. Todd allegedly stole another taxi from a taxi driver at gunpoint and drove away. Local law enforcement agents finally caught up with Todd atop the famed Opryland Hotel in a water cooling pit on the roof. Todd was taken to a local hospital to be tested for potential drug use, then booked into a Nashville jail where bail was set at $180,000. Local police say they have never seen a crime spree quite like Todd's.
Drug-fueled or not, multiple felony criminal offenses are a big deal in the state of California. Many of the criminal offenses Todd committed count as "strikes" under California's strict "Three Strikes" laws. A person who commits three eligible felonies is sent to a state prison for life, often without the possibility of parole.
Tagged as: three strikes laws
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
A case in Florida is testing the limits of separation of church and state, while at the same time causing major challenges for legislators, the courts and public schools. The principal at Pace High School in Pace, FL and the school athletic director are accused of violating a consent decree banning employees of the school district from endorsing religion. The two offered a prayer of blessing (also known as grace) during a school-day luncheon for the dedication of a new field house at Pace High School. The two could be sentenced to up to six months in jail and fines of thousands of dollars.
Prayer in school is a highly debated issue, and in certain states/circumstances, the penalties go far beyond being fired for a prayer. In this instance, the charge is that both individuals violated an agreement not to promote religion in their official capacity. The prayer has been interpreted as doing just that, and led to a "contempt of court" charge which carries fines and potential jail time for a conviction.
Law which govern such "crimes" as praying in a public school are often unknown to most people. Only skilled, knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can offer people the guidance they need of they are being prosecuted for seemingly innocuous actions. For example, there are traffic laws which may be unknown to most citizens, yet carry heavy penalties. A serious case that requires a skilled attorney would involve a Three Strikes violation. For example, people have gone to jail for decades after a misdemeanor conviction because they had two previous felonies. Some instances of Three Strikes violations involved people stealing pizza and video tapes, both of which led to serious prison terms.
Having a highly qualified defense attorney working for you can help limit the chances that you will spend any time in jail for seemingly minor infractions. In Los Angeles, even small misdemeanors can lead to major fines, minimum prison sentences and even community service.
If you or someone you love is facing jail time, you should contact the Kestenbaum, Eisner & Gorin today at 877-781-1570.
Tagged as: faq, three strikes laws
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.
Tagged as: three strikes laws
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:
Sentence: 27 years to life for stealing a spare tire
Sentence: 25 years to life for petty theft of razor blades
Sentence: 25 years to life for petty theft
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:
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
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 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
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.
Tagged as: three strikes laws
Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin LLP has been recognized as one of the best U.S. law firms, based on the experience, professionalism, and ethics of its criminal defense lawyers and attorneys. We aggressively defend clients in all Southern California courtrooms on state and federal charges, including DUI, DMV, misdemeanor, felony, juvenile cases, in the following communities and courthouses.