Washington’s “Three Strikes” Law Explained: Potential Consequences for Felony Offenders

The criminal justice system strives to impose consequences that deter people from becoming repeat offenders. When someone is found guilty of committing a felony offense, penalties like imprisonment, expensive fines, and other restrictions aim to reduce the likelihood of this individual committing a similar crime in the future. “Three Strikes” laws take this principle even further, making it possible for someone to face life imprisonment without parole if they are convicted of three serious or violent felony crimes.

Washington is one of approximately 20 states that adhere to a “three strikes and you’re out” law. Although the Washington Legislature recently passed a bill that clarifies and revises some key considerations pertaining to the Three Strikes law, those with previous felony convictions on their record need experienced legal representation and guidance for any subsequent felony charge to ensure that their future and freedom remain as protected as possible. Whether you are facing your first, second, or third felony charge in Clark County or the greater Vancouver area, it’s essential that you contact a highly qualified criminal defense attorney right away to develop your legal strategy.

Understanding Washington’s Three Strikes Law

Washington’s laws address persistent offenders and allow those convicted of three violent or serious felony crimes to face a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Under RCW 9.94A.570, “a persistent offender shall be sentenced to a term of total confinement for life without the possibility of release” for a third felony conviction. It’s worth noting that Washington was the first state in the country to pass a “3 Strikes and You’re Out” law, which took effect in 1993. Under the Three Strikes law, a defendant who has been convicted as an adult of three separate serious felony crimes can be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The qualifying felony offenses include murder, manslaughter, serious assault, robbery, child molestation, rape, and other serious crimes. Proponents of the Three Strikes law believed that imposing life imprisonment would remove violent and dangerous offenders from the community and boost public safety.

Recent Changes to Washington’s Three Strikes Law

In 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court decided to void the state’s existing drug possession laws, which enabled those serving time for drug-related crimes to qualify for reduced sentences. Under the revised Three Strikes law, those convicted of second-degree robbery with no weapon or injury were able to seek resentencing to lesser terms, as this nonviolent felony conviction no longer qualifies as a strike. As you prepare your legal defense strategy with your felony defense attorney, you can discuss how the revised Three Strikes law may affect your case.

Start Protecting Your Future Today

Facing a criminal charge of any kind can be overwhelming and intimidating. However, as worried as you may feel at this moment, you do not have to go through this stressful experience alone. Enlisting the guidance and support of a seasoned felony defense lawyer is the best way to navigate Washington’s criminal justice system with greater clarity. Legal expertise can significantly impact the outcome of your case and help you avoid a third-strike conviction.

If you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges in the Camas or Vancouver area, you need effective and reliable legal counsel as soon as possible. Call The Vern McCraw Law Firm, PLLC, today at (360) 834-6262 to discuss your case with a dedicated and experienced criminal defense lawyer.

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