Three strikes in Texas, and you’re out—and not just when it comes to baseball. Several states have “three strikes” laws, which are designed to punish offenders more severely when they commit subsequent severe felonies. The idea is to keep habitual criminals in jail and off the streets, in a bid to make things safer for the general public. Here’s what you need to know about Texas’s three strikes law and what it could mean for you.
Which felonies qualify?
Luckily, people with misdemeanors and issues like traffic violations don’t need to worry about already having a strike against them. The three strikes law is for severe felonies, like murder, rape, arson, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, child molestation and crimes that include using a weapon or explosives or that cause someone severe bodily harm. If you’ve been charged with one or more of these crimes, and are convicted, they will be considered a strike against you.
How the three strikes law works
If you’ve been convicted of two of the above felonies and served your time, it’s incumbent upon you not to commit any other crimes—even less severe ones. After the first two strikes, a judge has the leeway to give you a much harsher punishment even if the felony you’re charged with wouldn’t normally carry that punishment. After you’re convicted of the third strike, you could spend 25 years to life in prison, and owe up to $10,000 in fines.
The policy behind the three strikes law in Texas is that by the time you’ve been convicted of two or more of these severe felonies, you’re probably unable or unwilling to be rehabilitated. However, even if you’re convicted of a third felony, you may not be sentenced to the most severe punishments available—thanks to jail overcrowding, state budgets and a good defense attorney, you may be offered a better deal.
Three strikes controversy
Of course, Texas three strikes laws are not without controversy. For example, if the third strike was a nonviolent felony, a life sentence may not fit the crime. Although a judge has discretion in sentencing, there’s a possibility that someone may be sentenced to 25 years to life for a relatively minor crime.
It also has not been proven to significantly reduce crime—some experts suggest the changing culture and other factors are responsible for dropping crime rates. When you compare potentially draconian sentences against the public interest, many critics feel that the punishment not only does not fit the crime, but is unnecessarily harsh.
If you’ve been charged with a felony, whether it’s your first strike or your third, it’s crucial that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Don’t assume that just because jails are overcrowded (or because the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered early releases) you can easily avoid the three strikes law. Only a skilled defense attorney can advise you on the facts of your unique case.
When you need a defense lawyer in Lubbock, TX, The Law Office of Rob Biggers is here to help. Call us today.
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Categorised in: Criminal Law