When a person is convicted of a crime, the sentence they will receive generally
conforms to the sentencing guidelines in the California Penal Code. Based
on certain facts or conditions, however, the judge may have the power
to increase your sentence. These are called sentence enhancements, and
are designed to punish repeat offenders and those who have committed particularly
Perhaps the most common sentence enhancement is for those who have prior
criminal convictions on their record. The judge should look at the unique
details of your case, but can often enhance your sentence even if the
prior offense was a non-violent misdemeanor.
To address habitual offenders, California has enacted its infamous “Three
Strikes” law. This means that if you were convicted of two prior
qualifying offenses, typically violent crimes, a third serious felony
will result in a minimum 25 years to life jail sentence.
Another common sentence enhancement is when a firearm is used while committing
a crime, or is even in your possession when you commit a crime. Based
on the crime itself, the type of firearm, whether or not you used the
gun, and your criminal history, a judge can add between one year and life
in prison to the end of your sentence.
Minor Victims/Minors Present
Depending on the crime, you can face an enhanced sentence for merely having
a child present. One common example of this is DUI. This is already a
serious misdemeanor charge, but you could face an additional felony charge
of child endangerment which carries far more severe penalties.
Statistics don’t lie – those who are involved in gangs commit
crimes at a much higher rate than the general public. To crack down on
gang-related crimes, California has enacted aggressive measures that can
lead to major sentence enhancements. Furthermore, even being associated
with a gang (such as dating a gang member) can qualify you for these sentence
enhancements. Depending on the details of your offense, you could face
between 2 to 15 extra years in jail, or 25 years to life behind bars.
Don’t Take Risks With Your Defense
This blog only discusses a handful of the most common sentence enhancements,
but there are many others. If you’re facing any type of criminal
charges, it’s crucial to retain a skilled Modesto criminal defense
lawyer with the skill and knowledge to mount a solid defense on your behalf.
At the Law Offices of Mark W. Girdner, our lawyer is a former Deputy District
Attorney who thoroughly understands how sentence enhancements are applied,
and how to defend you against them.
Call (209) 326-1533 to
schedule a free consultation with our skilled attorney.