How the “3 strikes” rule doesn’t always work for criminal defense
Pennsylvania has not joined the ranks of states that have abused their 3 strikes policies by sentencing individuals to massive jail terms simply because of repeat offenses. In contrast, states like that have come under fire for their decisions to sentence minor criminals to serious jail sentences. One man in a different state who stole a set of golf clubs, for instance, was sentenced to a 25-years to life prison term for the minor offense. As you likely guessed, however, the offense was his 3rd. In Pennsylvania, however, requirements for sentencing are so specific that few defendants actually qualify for the 3 strikes penalties. Most of the serious offenses could land the defendant in prison for decades, if not for the rest of their lives. Still, it appears that just four of the state’s fifty-six 3 strikes cases from 2003 to 2012 resulted in life sentences, indicating that it is still reserved for only the most hardened criminals. Many of those who are eligible for the sentencing protocols have committed serious violations in the past, including murder, domestic assault and a variety of other violent criminal actions. Some sex offenders are also eligible. Pennsylvania residents who are facing criminal charges can therefore rest assured that they are very unlikely to fall within the purview of the 3 strikes law. However, those who are accused of repeat violent crime may benefit from the professional assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney, who can help them learn about the effects of the 3 strikes law upon their individual criminal cases.