“Serious” or “Violent” Felony │ Penal Code 1192.7(c) & Penal Code 667.5(c)
Any conviction for a serious or violent felony constitutes a “strike” offense applied to California’s Three Strike Laws. In addition, certain enhancement statutes may be applied if you’re convicted of a subsequent felony while suffering from a prior serious or violent felony conviction. Normally, these enhancements run consecutive to the underlying offense. Consequently, someone could face a maximum of 5 years in state prison for the underlying offense but could have their sentence doubled because of a prior violent or serious felony conviction.
California’s sentencing scheme is a highly complicated area of law. In fact, most judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors have trouble calculating the appropriate custody time. Some attorneys for instance are specialists in “felony sentencing” and are retained solely to determine the correct sentence on behalf of their clients.
A serious felony is defined under PC 1192.7(c) whereas a violent felony is defined under PC 667.5(c). As noted above, both sections constitute “strike” offenses. The prosecutor must allege the underlying crime as a serious or violent conviction within the indictment or information alleged against you. If you’re convicted of a strike offense, and your conviction is subsequently reduced to a misdemeanor under Penal Code 17(b), your conviction will be forever a misdemeanor but the strike will remain for the purposes of sentencing enhancements in the event you’re convicted or charged with a subsequent felony.
For example, if you’re charged with DUI causing great bodily injury, that offense is a wobbler, which means the prosecutor may elect to charge you with either a felony or a misdemeanor. In the event you’re charged with a felony, the prosecutor will allege a great bodily injury enhancement which carries a 3-year consecutive state prison sentence thereby transitioning the offense to a “strike.” If you’re convicted of this offense and the court sentences you to probation with 90 days of county jail time, and you subsequently move to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor under PC 17(b), regardless of the court’s approval of the reduction, the “strike” will forever remain for the purposes of subsequent felony enhancements.
If you have been arrested, charged, or are under investigation for a serious or violent felony, then contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of John D. Rogers. Call (949) 625-4487 to schedule a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.