Santa Ana Third Striker Avoids Life in Prison
A Santa Ana three-strike felon managed to avoid a life sentence, despite the fact that he was a gang member whose most recent alleged crime was an assault against a police officer.
Instead, he received 13 years in prison.
Santa Ana Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi knows fighting felony charges under California's three-strikes law requires the assistance of experienced and aggressive defense counsel.
First, let's explore the details of the case, as reported by The Orange County Register:
The 28-year-old defendant reportedly was driving east on First Street, less than a mile from the Orange County Jail, around 10 a.m. in mid-March. He was making a legal left turn on a green arrow. But then instead of simply completing his turn, for reasons that are unclear, the defendant sharply turned his wheel, speed up and started heading straight toward a police officer, who was waiting at a red light in the opposite lane of traffic.
Prosecutors allege he did not even try to hit his brakes before slamming into the cruiser. The incident was recorded on the cruiser's dash camera. The deputy was not severely injured, though he was briefly hospitalized.
Then, just after the crash, the defendant got out of his vehicle and surrendered without incident.
Officers discovered ammunition in his vehicle, which he was forbidden to have due to his prior convictions, which included state terrorism and robbery - both of which are categorized as violent crimes under California's Three Strikes Law.
Yet somehow, the 28-year-old documented gang member was able to plead guilty to aggravated assault on a peace officer and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon - and only be sentenced to 13 years. (Not that 13 years is not significant, but simply, it is far less than a sentence of 25 years to life.) Had he been sentenced under the Three Strikes Law, his sentence could have been tripled.
He also no doubt could have been sentenced under gang enhancements, which also could have added significantly to his sentence.
As the chief of staff at the Orange County District Attorney's Office explained to local media, the severity of a strike is based on the facts of the case against an individual. Based on the facts of this case, prosecutors said, they did not count this incident as a strike.
Initially, the defendant in this case was also charged with attempted murder. That charge, however, was later withdrawn due to not only a lack of evidence, but also the defendant's history of mental illness. That latter part was also likely a factor in the prosecution's decision not to pursue penalty under the Three Strikes Law in this case.
All this said, the Three Strikes Law in California is in fact of the harshest in the country. Most defendants won't have the benefit of not having their felony count as a strike under the law, so it's critical to have a defense attorney who can fight these charges.
Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime. Protecting your rights and setting up an aggressive defense at the beginning stages is critical in defending against criminal charges.