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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Three strikes laws in New York mandate long prison sentences for people convicted of three violent felonies. The purpose is to incarcerate repeat offenders for extended periods to prevent future crimes. However, these laws are controversial and critics argue they are overly harsh and lead to excessive punishment.
Under New York’s three strikes law, a defendant convicted of any three separate violent felony offenses on three different occasions faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole ((https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PEN/70.08)). The law targets repeat offenders who continue to commit violent crimes despite previous convictions.The types of offenses that count as violent felonies under the three strikes law include ((https://codes.findlaw.com/ny/penal-law/pen-sect-70-04.html)):
If a defendant is convicted of two violent felonies, then a third conviction for any violent felony triggers the mandatory life sentence. Even non-violent felonies can count as the third strike in some cases.
In addition to three strikes laws, New York has mandatory minimum sentencing laws that require judges to impose a minimum number of years for people convicted of certain offenses ((https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PEN/70.02)).For example, the use of a firearm during a violent felony conviction carries a mandatory minimum 5-year prison sentence that must be served consecutively to the sentence for the underlying violent felony.Selling drugs in large quantities or to minors also triggers mandatory minimum sentences. Selling over 2 ounces of drugs like heroin or cocaine carries 3 to 8 years, while selling over 4 ounces bumps the minimum up to 8 to 20 years ((https://codes.findlaw.com/ny/penal-law/pen-sect-220-18.html)).Judges have no discretion to lower mandatory minimum sentences, regardless of mitigating factors about the defendant or case circumstances.
While three strikes laws aim to prevent future crimes by keeping repeat offenders locked up, critics argue the laws go too far and have unintended consequences ((https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/three-strikes-laws-strike-out)):Overly Harsh Punishments: Life in prison is an extremely harsh sentence and critics argue it is excessive punishment for some non-violent third strikes like drug possession or petty theft.Racial Disparities: Studies show three strikes laws disproportionately impact people of color. For example, Black Americans make up over 40% of the three strikes prison population in California despite being 6% of the state’s population ((https://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/sp/3strikes.pdf)).Overcrowded Prisons: Three strikes laws contribute to prison overcrowding and rising incarceration rates. Over 125,000 people are serving life sentences in U.S. prisons, tying up resources ((https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/still-life-americas-increasing-use-life-long-term-sentences/)).High Costs: Keeping convicts imprisoned for life costs taxpayers over $1 million per prisoner according to some estimates, diverting funds from prevention programs ((https://www.aclusocal.org/sites/default/files/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Banking-on-Bondage.-Private-Prisons-and-Mass-Incarceration-ACLU-2011.pdf)).Diminishing Returns: While incarceration rates climbed under three strikes laws, some research found no clear link to reduced crime rates ((https://direct.mit.edu/rest/article/91/4/837/57896/Do-Three-Strikes-Laws-Make-Sense-Habitual)). So the high costs may not translate into improved public safety.
In light of concerns around fairness and costs, some states like California have reformed their three strikes laws to require the third strike to be a serious or violent felony in order to trigger life sentences. This “fixes” cases where minor third strikes resulted in life imprisonment ((https://www.courts.ca.gov/20142.htm)).However, efforts to reform New York’s harsh Rockefeller drug laws and three strikes statutes have made little progress so far. Bills keep getting introduced but fail to pass ((https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/Will-latest-reform-try-have-any-better-luck-15656930.php)). Critics condemn New York’s laws as “extreme and regressive” compared to reforms passed in other states ((https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/new-yorks-rockefeller-drug-laws-extreme-regressive-ineffective)).So for now, New York retains some of the harshest three strikes sentencing in the country. However, debate continues around reforming these laws to balance public safety, fairness, and costs.
The high stakes under New York’s three strikes law mean securing experienced legal representation is critical for anyone facing a third strike prosecution. Contact a dedicated New York criminal defense lawyer immediately so they can start working on your case.A skilled attorney can thoroughly examine the evidence and identify any police misconduct, procedural errors, or witness credibility issues. In some cases, they may negotiate to reduce charges so a conviction does not qualify as a third strike. An attorney can also present mitigating evidence about your background and argue why a life sentence would be unjust.Do not leave your fate to chance under New York’s harsh three strikes law. The potential consequences are simply too great. Consult an attorney as soon as possible about fighting your charges and avoiding a life sentence. Reliable legal aid resources include:
With an experienced lawyer arguing your side, you stand the best possible chance of avoiding a severe three strikes sentence and regaining your freedom. Do not hesitate to seek help fighting back.
https://codes.findlaw.com/ny/penal-law/pen-sect-70-04.html https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PEN/70.02 https://codes.findlaw.com/ny/penal-law/pen-sect-220-18.html
https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/three-strikes-laws-strike-out https://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/sp/3strikes.pdf https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/still-life-americas-increasing-use-life-long-term-sentences/
https://www.courts.ca.gov/20142.htm https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/Will-latest-reform-try-have-any-better-luck-15656930.php https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/new-yorks-rockefeller-drug-laws-extreme-regressive-ineffective
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