When most people hear the term “three strikes law,” they usually think of California, which has been the subject of much controversy over the years.
What you may not know is that Texas also has a three strikes law, which punishes offenders for repeat penalties. After a third felony, offenders in Texas face 25 years to life in prison. Baseball fans will recognize the phrase from the game, which makes a batter out after three pitches.
The Three Strikes Law in Texas and Other States
Texas’ three strikes law was first enacted in 1952. California’s law was passed in 1994. After three separate felony convictions, an individual is subject to a life sentence in prison. The law and others like it in other states was enacted to cut down on recidivism – offenders who go on to commit future crimes. Lawmakers believe that career criminals can’t be rehabilitated. To stop them from continuously committing crimes and tying up the justice system, they impose harsh penalties after a third offense.
In most states with repeat offender laws, the law only applies to felony convictions. About half the states in the country have some form of a three-strike law.
Controversy over Three-strike Laws
Some states have seen their three-strike laws challenged. This is especially true in California, which individuals have been imprisoned for life after committing a third, non-violent offense. In perhaps one of the most famous cases, which went all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, a man was sentenced to life in prison for theft of videotapes. Because he had two prior felony convictions, and because the particular California theft statute in question allowed the theft to be charged as a felony, the three-strike law was triggered. The Court upheld his sentence in Lockyer v. Andrade in 2003.
California amended its three-strike law in 2012 to make a repeat crime count as a third strike only in cases where the offense is a serious or violent felony. Texas law does not have a similar amendment.
Legal Help for Repeat Criminal Offenses
If you have been charged with a felony, and you have a history of criminal convictions, it is extremely important to obtain the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Texas. When your future is on the line, you need powerful defense on your side.