''Romero'' Motions and the Importance of ''Striking a Strike''

A prior strike conviction under California's Three Strikes Law, no matter how dated, can have substantially negative consequences for an individual facing sentencing on a new offense. The prior strike conviction can stand in the way of an individual receiving a grant of probation and can cause an individual to serve significantly more time in custody than they would have without a prior strike conviction. However, the California Supreme Court in People v. Superior Court (Romero) (1996) 13 Cal. 4th 497, held that trial courts may dismiss a prior strike conviction in the interest of justice under Penal Code section 1385. The California Supreme Court made it clear that the dismissal of a prior strike conviction under Penal Code section 1385 may occur "before, during or after trial, up to the time judgment is pronounced." Romero at 524. A motion to "strike a strike" is commonly referred to as a Romero motion.

The Sentencing Court's Authority to Dismiss Prior Strike Convictions Under California Penal Code section 1385

Under California Penal Code section 1385, the sentencing court has the authority to use its discretion when imposing a sentence on a non-violent or life-threating offense to dismiss a prior strike in the interest of justice. Prior to doing so, the sentencing court must set forth its reasons.

What Factors Does a Court Look at When Deciding to Strike a Strike

As explained in People v. Williams (1998) 17 Cal.4th 148, 161, "the court in question must consider, whether, in light of the nature and circumstances of his present felonies and prior serious and/or violent felony convictions, and the particulars of his background character, and prospects, the defendant may be deemed outside the [Three Strikes] scheme's spirit, in whole or in part, and hence should be treated as though he had not previously been convicted of one or more felonies and/or had not previously been convicted of one or more serious and/or violent felonies." The standard of review is whether the ruling in question "falls outside the bounds of reason" under the law and relevant facts. See People v. Dryden (2021) 60 Cal.App.5th 1007, 1031.

The sentencing court cannot choose to dismiss a prior strike arbitrarily. For instance, it would be deemed an abuse of discretion for the sentencing court to dismiss a prior strike to alleviate court congestion or simply because it disagrees with the Three Strikes Law.

Factors that are often considered by the sentencing court when determining whether to "strike a strike" include, but are not limited to, the date of the prior strike conviction(s) (i.e., whether the prior strike offense(s) arose from a single period and how much time had passed between the prior strike conviction(s) and the current offense(s)); the nature and circumstances of the current offense(s); and whether the prior strike conviction would otherwise result in an unjustly lengthy sentence.

If you or a family member has a prior strike conviction and is facing new felony or misdemeanor charges out of Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or Ventura County, it is imperative that you hire the best attorney that you can to explore all options available. Attorney Michael Kraut has extensive experience litigating Romero motions and knows how to effectively present their situations and circumstances to "strike a strike" and secure the absolute best result.

For more information about expungement, and to schedule your free consultation, contact attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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