There is a lot of controversy about three-strikes laws, which require a lifetime prison sentence after someone is convicted of a third criminal offense of certain types. These laws vary a great deal by state. Some states impose the sentence for nonviolent crimes that do not cause physical harm. Some require the sentence for certain types of drug-related offenses or for sex crimes. Pennsylvania actually has a two-strikes law focusing on violent crimes, with increasingly harsher required sentences for each subsequent offense after the first. Someone who is facing a second or third charge of a violent crime certainly needs legal representation by a criminal lawyer in Chester County to avoid the worst possible consequences.
A second conviction of violent crime in Pennsylvania requires a minimum 10-year prison sentence. A judge has the discretion to issue a sentence of up to 20 years if he or she believes this is warranted. Even when a conviction is unavoidable, a criminal lawyer in Chester County typically can make sure the client receives the most lenient penalty allowed by state law. A third conviction for violent criminal behavior carries a mandatory minimum 25-year sentence. Judges are not allowed to issue more lenient sentences than the ones specified in the law. However, a judge is allowed to increase that mandatory penalty to a life sentence without parole. This rarely occurs, unless the crimes have been particularly severe, such as sexual assault of a child, assault with a deadly weapon or murder. Anyone who is facing a third charge is at risk, however.
In Pennsylvania, ignorance of this law is not a defense. A person who commits a third violent crime cannot protest that he was never informed about the increasingly harsh penalties mandated by law. This is one of the reasons people generally should not represent themselves in court. Unless they have considerable knowledge of relevant laws, they will be unable to effectively defend themselves. Someone who has been charged with a second or third violent offense should visit a website such as website. Lawyers at this firm offer free consultations for people charged with a crime.
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