Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

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.

Tagged as: three strikes laws


Austin Henderson, UCLA on June 6, 2009 at 6:04 p.m. wrote:

I agree with Theresa. We are to hold people accountable for their actions. If certain people consistently violate the law, what kind of message are we sending them if we let them go? The three strikes law has been put into place to discourage violations of the law. I love 24 and I'm sad that it's over until next January. But if Keifer Sutherland has consistently violated the law he needs to pay the consequences. We are all expected to play by the same rules, most of us can handle ourselves and be law abiding citizens. Sutherland has several instances where he has done something stupid while intoxicated. That needs to stop. If we lessen the penalty, it takes away from holding the person accused responsible for his or her actions. Of course there are cases where a person might be wrongfully accused or there is another mix up in which a proper defense will be neccessary. But petty crime or not it is still in violation of the laws that we are all expected to follow.

Ivan Vuckovic, UCLA on June 4, 2009 at 8:44 a.m. wrote:

I agree that it is distressing that many arguably undeserving individuals have been sentenced to extensive time behind bars on account of the three strikes laws in California. California law mandates the enhanced sentence for any third felony conviction so long as the felonies were deemed to be either 'violent' or 'serious,' or both. With good legal representatiuon, however, there is room to make a sucessful argument that the felony convictions were not for crimes that are “serious” or “violent” enough to be labeled as such. As a result, lawyers with a good argument can be sucessful if they convince the trier of fact that the felony convictions were not “serious” or “violent” enough to qualify under the three strikes laws. Therefore, I am confident that if this law is applied properly and if we ensure that those facing potential third strike convictions are afforded access to appropriate and knowledgeable legal representation problems associated with the three strikes law will be avoided.

Theresa Fiddler on May 25, 2009 at 4:19 p.m. wrote:

The Three Strikes Law is not only fair, it is overly kind to dangerous criminals. We live in a society that aims to protect the rights of citizens. Allowing dangerous, felony commiting criminals on the street does not do justice for the rest of society. If a person can not refrain from commiting crimes after being released twice for crimes of a similiar nature, then they deserve to be incarcerated for the rest of their lives. For if dangerous criminals are continually let free after committing felony after felony, crimes where innocent people are affected will be commited that could have been prevented by putting offenders behind bars. If the three strikes law is carried through immediately and consistently after third felonies are commited, I have a strong suspicion that it will do wonders in deterring further crime. And as already mentioned, it the duty of society to protect innocent citizens from danger and this purpose is defeated when felony commiting criminals are let free to walk the street and strike again felony after vicious felony.

Puja Patel, UCLA on May 20, 2009 at 10:04 p.m. wrote:

The three strikes law is especially harmful to juvenile offenders who later go on to commit a crime as an adult. If the juvenile was convicted of the crime, even if he merely plead guilty to receive a lighter sentence, that conviction can be used as a strike later on when the juvenile is an adult. I do not think that this is fair because I am a firm believer in the idea that the punishment should fit the crime, and I don't think that life in prison for nonviolent crime results in a more just or safer society.

Lillian Smith on May 20, 2009 at 1:51 a.m. wrote:

I have to say that I disagree with the above reply. I do not think that the three strikes law should be reversed as it specifically includes only prior 'felonies' that were serious or violent. If I understand correctly, a person cannot receive life in prison for 3 mild infractions. Because the law requires that they be serious of violent, I think that the three strikes law serves as an appropriate and justified warning for criminals with two strikes under their belt. If someone hasn't learned to abide by the laws after 2 felonies, perhaps it is time for the Court to take some more serious action...The example of Sutherland is interesting because he is a celebrity, I would be interested to know if there is a similar case with an ordinary citizen and if they were given a more lengthy penalty than he will likely receive.

Serafima Krikunova on May 17, 2009 at 9:05 p.m. wrote:

It is distressing to consider the many arguably undeserving individuals who have been sentenced to extensive time behind bars on account of the three strikes laws in California. As the example of Keifer Sutherland illustrates, such laws are often counterproductive to their initial objectives. Although such cases give attorneys significantly more clientele, I hope to see the three strikes laws reversed in the very near future. Locking up petty criminals for repeated offenses is an entirely inefficient process that serves as a waste of resources.

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