In California, many people are familiar with the terms “three strikes” or “multiple strikes” convictions. Such terms refer to a California law that has dramatically increased punishment for individuals convicted of felony offenses who have previously been convicted of one or more serious or violent felonies. Persons with two or more “strikes” earn no good time credits and face a minimum sentence of 25-years-to-life in prison. In addition to the three strikes law, California has also enacted the “one strike” law that provides for enhanced indeterminate terms of either 15 or 25-years-to-life for those defendants who commit enumerated felony sex offenses under specified circumstances. Among the enumerated sex crimes, the law includes rape, sexual penetration, lewd or lascivious act, sodomy, oral copulation, or continuous sexual abuse of the child.
Pursuant to California’s one strike law, the court is requires to impose a life sentence when an individual is convicted of an enumerated sexual offense, and the prosecution has pleaded and proved one or more of the specified aggravating circumstances. The list of the aggravating circumstances includes, for example, that the defendant personally inflicted bodily harm on a child, personally used dangerous or deadly weapon during the commission of the specified sex crimes, the defendant engaged in the tying or binding of the victim or administered an illegal drug to the victim during the commission of the crime, or that the defendant has been convicted of sex crimes against more than one victim.
So, how many life sentences the trial court must impose on an individual who has been convicted of multiple sex offenses committed against different victims on separate occasions? In sentencing such a defendant the one strike law requires the trial court to impose one indeterminate life term per victim per occasion. This means that the one strike scheme contemplates a separate life term for each victim attacked on each separate occasion, no matter how many specified sex offenses the defendant had actually committed against a particular victim on a particular occasion. The court has no authority to strike a conviction for the purpose of sentencing. However, the court may still exercise its discretion in imposing concurrent or consecutive life terms. For example, the trial court is permitted to sentence the defendant to three consecutive or concurrent terms of 15 years to life for committing lewd or lascivious acts upon two different victims on three different occasions.
This office handles all aspects related to the defense of sex crimes in San Diego County. For a free consultation, contact us at (619) 232-5122 or: email@example.com
For more information on defending sex crime cases, see the following: