While California is infamous for its 3 strikes ruling, and the later backpedaling from its strict enforcement, it has set up a precedent that many jurisdictions across the nation follow without acknowledging that they do so. If your client is a habitual offender you are going to have to be nimble to avoid inheriting a 3 strikes mindset from the judge and jury.
How do you know if 3 strikes are present in the room?
The first tell-tale sign is if the prosecutor is advocating for the admission of prior convictions or arrests. You have to make sure that you file early motions to bar certain aspects of your client’s record from being admitted to prevent this. You also have to carefully examine your potential witness list to make sure that none of them are going to open the door to allow for questioning on prior activities. You can also tell if 3 strikes are on the list by doing your homework to look at the track record of the judge and prosecutor. Don’t look just for the judgments, but look at the defendant’s history that was facing them when stiffer penalties have been put in place.
Negotiating to a lesser charge
One of the best ways to defuse the 3 strikes mentality is to negotiate to a lesser charge before you even enter the courtroom. If you can get the prosecutor to accept a lesser charge and pleas you can create another path for your client’s history. It can be imperative that there is a gain to the plea, and that is most often achieved in cost and time savings. When that is not the case, find something for your client to offer.
Preparing an offer of rehabilitation
The second your client is released from custody they have to become involved in some kind of viable rehabilitation program. This can range from a 12 step support group to therapy to a structured residential program. The faster you can show that you client is taking steps to reform the more you will incline the court to leave room for continued change and improvement. If your client is determined to fight charges head on, make sure that they are very aware of the potential of a serious penalty being passed against them due to the repetitious nature of the offense. Creating a time frame for them to think about the possible outcome can be one of the best ways to get them to see reason.