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Strike Felonies in California

Crimes of violence, such as robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats, rape, and attempted murder are often charged as felonies, which means that they carry prison time. These California felony offenses carry additional collateral consequences such as loss of gun rights for life and additional mandatory prison time for any felony conviction in the future. A skilled Orange County Defense Attorney is crucial to defend against charges for a violent crime. 

Klugman Law PC has almost two full decades of experience dealing with these charges . We are determined to secure the best result for every client, no matter the circumstances or the odds. Contact us at 714-559-0931 as soon as possible to schedule a consultation about your case.

What is a Strike under California Criminal Law?

A "strike" under California criminal law refers to a conviction for certain serious or violent felonies that fall under the "Three Strikes" sentencing law. This law, codified in the California Penal Code sections 667 and 1170.12, was designed to increase the prison sentences of repeat offenders. If a person is convicted of a felony crime such as residential burglary, rape, or assault with a deadly weapon, they have a strike in their background.

What are the Consequences of a Felony Strike Conviction in California? 

 If a person with one prior strike conviction is convicted of any new felony (not necessarily serious or violent), it counts as a second strike. The sentence for the new felony is doubled. For example, if the normal sentence for the new felony is five years, it becomes ten years. The same could apply for a third strike, or a third strike could be mandated to carry a minimum sentence of 25 years, depending on the charge. Also, for non-citizens and immigrants to the United States, a strike conviction is likely to call for mandatory deportation. 

It is clear that one should avoid taking a strike conviction at all costs. An experienced criminal defense  attorney in good standing with the court can negotiate for the dismissal of prior strike allegations and deal for the reduction of charges from strikes to non-strikes. In Orange County and surrounding areas, attorney Adam Klugman has accomplished this for his clients, and can do the same for you.   

Violent Crimes in California

Generally speaking, violent crimes involve the use of force against an alleged victim.

Violent crimes are aggravated when the alleged offender uses a weapon or uses force against a certain class or categorization of people (e.g., the elderly, children, or police officers).

Examples of violent crimes include:

1. Murder and Manslaughter

  • First-Degree Murder (Penal Code § 187): The unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought, premeditation, and deliberation. It includes killings committed during certain felonies (felony murder rule).
  • Second-Degree Murder: Murder that is not premeditated or deliberate but still involves malice aforethought.
  • Manslaughter:
    • Voluntary Manslaughter (Penal Code § 192(a)): The unlawful killing of a human being without malice, upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.
    • Involuntary Manslaughter (Penal Code § 192(b)): The unlawful killing of a human being without malice during the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, or during the commission of a lawful act which might produce death in an unlawful manner or without due caution and circumspection.

2. Aggravated Assault

  • Aggravated Assault (Penal Code § 245): Assault with a deadly weapon or with force likely to produce great bodily injury.

3. Robbery (Penal Code § 211)

The taking of personal property from another person, from their immediate presence, against their will, by means of force or fear.

4. Rape and Sexual Assault

  • Rape (Penal Code § 261): Non-consensual sexual intercourse accomplished by means of force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury.
  • Sexual Battery (Penal Code § 243.4): Touching the intimate part of another person for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse, against the will of the person.

5. Kidnapping (Penal Code § 207)

The unlawful taking and carrying away of a person by force or fear, against their will, from one place to another.

6. Domestic Violence

  • Domestic Battery (Penal Code § 243(e)(1)): Willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon a spouse, cohabitant, or parent of the defendant's child.
  • Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant (Penal Code § 273.5): Inflicting corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a spouse, cohabitant, or parent of the defendant's child.

7. Mayhem (Penal Code § 203)

The unlawful and malicious infliction of injury upon another person which disfigures, disables, or deprives them of a body part.

8. Arson (Penal Code § 451)

Willfully and maliciously setting fire to or burning or causing to be burned a structure, forest land, or property, where there is a threat to human life.

9. Gang-Related Violence

  • Participation in a Criminal Street Gang (Penal Code § 186.22): Committing a felony for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang with the intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.

10. Elder Abuse (Penal Code § 368)

Willfully causing or permitting an elder or dependent adult to suffer unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or allowing the person or their health to be endangered.

Sentencing Enhancements

California law imposes sentencing enhancements for violent crimes under specific circumstances, such as:

  • Use of a Firearm (Penal Code § 12022.5, § 12022.53): Additional penalties for using or discharging a firearm during the commission of a crime.
  • Great Bodily Injury (Penal Code § 12022.7): Additional penalties for inflicting great bodily injury during the commission of a felony.

Potential Penalties for Convictions of Violent Crimes in California

The classification of a violent crime as a felony or misdemeanor can depend on the level of injury caused to the alleged victim. Most violent crimes are classified as felonies and attract harsh sentences, even for first-time offenders. 

The penalties for violent crimes include but are not limited to

  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Parole
  • Community service
  • Rehabilitation or treatment classes
  • Imprisonment

More consequences, however, flow from a conviction aside from the sentence. These collateral consequences and can include:

  • Loss of employment
  • Loss of right to possess a gun- mandatory for Felony convictions and convictions of any violent crime, even misdemeanors under California state law
  • Loss of professional license such as medical license or teaching license

A skilled criminal defense lawyer in California can help you first defend against violent crime charges. Depending on your circumstances, this could mean dismissal, reduced charges, a plea deal, or an acquittal. If you are convicted, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can also help you manage the collateral consequences of a conviction.

Defenses in California to a Violent Crimes 

The defenses available to a defendant will depend on the circumstances of their case. When it comes to defending a violent crime in California, defendants often do not deny their actions but instead argue that there was a legal excuse for them. 


If someone charged with a crime acted in self-defense under California law, they cannot be guilty of a crime. It is used when a defendant uses force against another person in defense of themselves or someone else. In these situations, the circumstances may legally justify the defendant's use of force. However, the force used must be reasonable and proportionate. 

Lack of intent

Some crimes require the prosecution to establish that the defendant acted with a certain intent to be guilty of a crime. For example, attempted murder not only requires that a defendant commit and act likely to result in the killing of another person, but it must also be proven that he intended the other person to die.  For example, if a defendant was intoxicated or mentally incapacitated at the time of the offense, they could argue they were unable to form the intent needed for criminal responsibility. 

Lack of Force Likely to Cause Injury

Certain crimes require the prosecution to prove that a defendant used a specific level of force. Prosecutors sometimes "overcharge" a case  without being able to prove that the defendant acted with the required level of force.

Contact a Defense Attorney in Orange County Today

Given their potentially catastrophic consequences, violent crimes and strikes attract some of the harshest sentences. If you have been accused of committing a violent crime, you should contact us today. We will review your case, explain your options, and formulate your legal defense. We are on your side. Call 714-559-0931 or submit an online form today to schedule a consultation about your case.



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