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One Defense Against California's Three Strikes Law: The Romero Motion


If you or a loved one have a criminal record with previous convictions in the state of California, and have been charged with a crime, you run the risk of running afoul of California’s Three Strikes law. The Three Strikes law increases punishments for repeat offenders. If applied to the conviction of a repeat offender, it can result in long sentences that otherwise would not be on the table.

An experienced criminal law attorney can defend against California’s Three Strikes. They will either work to defeat the charges themselves, or dispute that the charges be considered a “strike” under California law.

The Romero Motion

In 1996, Jesus Romero was convicted of possession of 0.13 grams of cocaine. Back then, a drug possession conviction of this kind would typically result in a prison sentence of up to three years. However, because of the Three Strikes law, Romero faced a sentence up to life. California’s Three Strikes law authorized life sentences for Romero’s third strike even though the third strike conviction carried much milder sentences by itself. Since Romero already had strikes for felony burglary convictions, the life sentence was lawful.

In the case of People v. Romero, the judge on the Romero case decided to act against the possibility of a life sentence for drug possession, a sentence the judge considered draconian. The Romero judge reclassified as “non-strike” offenses the previous convictions, and by doing rendering the drug possession conviction the first strike, not the third. The defendant was sentenced to six years, three years plus three more (not life) for the previous convictions.

The Three Strikes law was reformed in 2012, in some part due to the actions of the judge on the Romero case, however, Three Strikes is still on the books, and is still a threatening presence to anyone with a criminal record. The Romero Motion is one way to battle Three Strikes, but every situation is different, and every court is different. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in California and already have previous convictions on your criminal record, contact an experienced local criminal law attorney right away.

This article is not intended to provide legal advice. For legal advice on any of the information in this post, please contact one of our attorneys. Browse our attorney profiles or contact us by phone: (805) 749-5670.

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