By Kelsey Kitzke
SACRAMENTO – California’s controversial Three Strikes sentencing law doubled a defendant’s already agreed-upon drug possession plea bargain here last week in a Sacramento County Superior Courtroom.
Corey McBride walked into court, in custody, facing three pending cases of multiple felony and misdemeanor counts. His court date was set to hear and settle a plea deal previously struck between the Deputy District Attorney Spencer Rajabzadeh and McBride’s attorney, Karen Watkins.
Together, the two lawyers presented the agreed-upon deal to Judge Patrick Marlette, explaining that McBride would agree to enter a no-contest plea for a felony charge of methamphetamine possession in exchange for the lowest term prison sentence (two years) and dismissal of McBride’s two other criminal cases.
However, the time was doubled to four years because, under California’s Three Strikes law, a prior felony conviction—even if unrelated—mandates a doubling of a sentence.
McBride had previously been convicted of a felony for first degree burglary more than a decade ago, triggering the Three Strikes law and requiring that the sentence of any new felony conviction of McBride’s be automatically doubled.
So, the sentencing guidelines for McBride’s new felony charge (which carries a possible sentence of two to four years in prison) are effectively tossed and replaced with a new, much higher minimum and maximum.
Without the plea deal, McBride was facing the possibility of a prison term of eight years (twice the maximum sentence of four years).
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