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What to Do If You Are Facing Your Third Strike

In Massachusetts, the "three strikes" law, or the "habitual offender" law, mandates stricter penalties for individuals convicted of three or more serious violent crimes. Under this law, if a person with two "strikes" on their record already is found guilty of a third qualifying offense, they are subject to a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

The qualifying offenses typically include serious violent crimes such as:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Armed robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Human trafficking

This stringent measure allegedly aims to deter repeat offenders and protect the community from individuals with a demonstrated pattern of dangerous behavior. Understanding the specifics of this law is crucial for anyone with prior qualifying convictions, as a third strike carries severe, life-altering consequences.

Read our blog post, "4 Things to Know About the Three Strikes Law," to learn more about the offenses that could result in a strike on your record.

First Steps to Take If You Are Arrested or Charged with a Third Strike Offense

If you are arrested or charged with an offense that potentially carries a third strike, it is crucial to act swiftly and wisely. The first step you can take is to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Engaging a qualified attorney with experience handling serious criminal cases is paramount to protecting your rights.

The legal system is intricate, and the stakes are exceptionally high when facing a third strike. A skilled attorney, like ours at Brad Bailey Law can:

  • Evaluate the specifics of your case: They can review the details of your arrest and the charges filed to help you develop a robust defense strategy.
  • Provide informed guidance: An experienced lawyer can offer valuable advice on handling interactions with law enforcement and the prosecution.
  • Represent you in court: Your attorney can be your advocate during court proceedings, helping you with all aspects of your trial.

In addition to securing legal representation, keep detailed records of your interactions with law enforcement, including the circumstances of your arrest and any communications with the authorities. Avoid discussing your case; refrain from speaking about your case with anyone other than your attorney. Statements made to law enforcement, prosecutors, friends, family, or others can be used against you in court.

Taking these initial steps can significantly impact the outcome of your case, potentially reducing the severity of consequences or even preventing a third strike. Remember, the sooner you secure knowledgeable legal representation, the better your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.

Possible Defenses Against a Third Strike

Facing a third strike carries immense gravity, but various defenses may be utilized to protect your rights and challenge the charges. Work with your attorney to fully assess all potential options, including avenues involving past convictions.

Defenses that have been used to help accused individuals avoid a third strike include:

  • Challenging the validity of prior convictions: If one or more of the previous strikes were obtained through improperly handled cases, evidence may be presented to question their validity.
  • Arguing insufficient evidence: The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused offender committed the crime for which they have been charged. If there is insufficient evidence, they can challenge the third strike on these grounds.
  • Presenting mitigating circumstances: Although challenging with habitual offender statutes, presenting significant mitigating factors, such as lack of intent or coercion, may be a viable defense.
  • Using procedural defenses: Any procedural errors during an arrest or trial, such as violations of constitutional rights, can be leveraged to reduce or dismiss the charges.
  • Negotiating a plea deal: In some cases, an attorney may negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution to avoid the third strike, potentially reducing the charge to a lesser offense with lighter penalties.

Dealing with the three strikes law and defending against a potential third strike requires an aggressive defense that is meticulous and thorough. At Brad Bailey Law, we have helped many clients in similar positions and are well-versed in all aspects of state and federal criminal laws.

If you or a loved one is facing a third strike, contact us immediately to discuss your options.

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