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Defendant Claims Sentencing was Disporportionate to the Crime


This is a case of Ewing versus California. The case is being heard in the Second Appellate district in the Court of Appeals in California. The original case was argued on the fifth of November in 2002 and the decision was made on the fifth of March in 2003.

Case Discussion and History

A New York DWI Lawyer said California is one of the states that have initiated a three strikes rule. Under this law it is stated that if an person is convicted of a felony and has been convicted of two vicious or serious felonies in the past, an indeterminate life term in prison will be given. The defendant will be eligible for parole on a date that is relevant to the minimum term of the case. In this particular case the parole date is set at 25 years.

The petitioner of the case, Ewing, was on parole and during this time frame he was convicted of a felony grand theft. Ewing stole three golf clubs that were valued at approximately $400 a piece. Based on the requirements of the three strikes law, the prosecutor alleged that Ewing had been convicted of four previous felony charges and because of this should received a conviction of 25 years to life. A New York DWI Lawyer said at the time the court refused to use discretion in reducing the charges of the stolen golf clubs to a misdemeanor, under a state law that would allow the court to do so.

When appealed in the State Court of Appeal, the verdict was affirmed. The court refused the claim of the appellant that stated his sentencing was disproportionate to the crimes committed. The court reasoned that the purpose of the three strikes law was to deter repeat offenders and this was at work in this particular case. The Supreme Court denied any review of the case.

Judges Reasoning in the Case

Justice Kennedy, Justice O’Connor, and the Chief Justice have all concluded that the sentencing that Ewing received was appropriate and there was no violation of the Eighth Amendment in the case. It is found that the Eighth Amendment is narrowly proportionate and only applies to sentences that are noncapital offences.

Additionally, the states that have enacted three strike laws have made a deliberate choice in policy when dealing with repeat offenders. The laws are in place to deal with criminals that repeatedly engage in violent and serious criminal activities and who have shown that no matter which conventional punishment is given, they are unwilling to change their behaviors. Although these laws are somewhat new, the courts typically will stand with the state legislatures on issues such as this that are of such importance.

While Ewing claims that the punishment is not proportionate for the crime he committed, it stands to reason that the offense should not be taken lightly. This particular offense cannot be defined as a “wobbler” as defined by the state. A Nassau County DWI Lawyer said the crime was considerable and unless is defined as a misdemeanor by the court, will be considered a felony and this court is unwilling to redefine this.

While in other states the maximum sentencing for a case such as this would be lower, we find that the sentencing is not excessive in this case in the state of California. The previous judgment and sentencing in the case are affirmed.

Stephen Bilkis & Associates can help you through any legal trouble you may find yourself in. If you are unsure what your next step should be, you may contact one of our offices to set up your free consultation. We have offices conveniently located throughout the city of New York.

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