California Sentencing Enhancements

Zealous Criminal Defense Attorney Fighting for Clients in Modesto and Throughout Stanislaus County

Over recent years, California has come to be known as a progressive state when it comes to criminal justice reform. However, one of the reasons why the state has been able to make such strides is because the California sentencing enhancements are among the strictest in the country. In many cases, a sentence for enhancement time far exceeds the sentence for the underlying offense. If you face criminal charges in Modesto and the prosecutors are alleging enhancements, it is essential you reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of Rebecka A. Monez, we have extensive experience effectively dealing with the California sentencing enhancements and do everything possible to take the possibility of receiving enhancement time off the table.

What Are the California Sentencing Enhancements?

Under California law, judges determine your sentence depending on the type of crime you were convicted of. However, years ago, state lawmakers also passed a series of sentencing enhancements that expose certain individuals to additional penalties if the government can prove certain additional facts.

Most California sentencing enhancements fall into two categories: firearm enhancements and gang enhancements.

Firearm Enhancements

Firearm enhancements add additional time to your sentence if you are found to have possessed, used, or injured somebody with a firearm during the commission of a crime. The most commonly used firearm sentencing enhancements include:

Penal Code § 12022 – Armed with a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony

If you are armed with a gun when you commit a crime, you face an additional one-year jail sentence—even if you didn’t use the gun. This enhancement imposes a three-year term of imprisonment if the gun was an assault weapon or machine gun.

Penal Code § 12022.5 – Personal Use of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony

If you used a firearm while committing any felony, the judge could add an additional 3, 4 or 10 years to your sentence. You don’t necessarily need to fire the gun for this enhancement to apply; merely using the gun in a threatening manner triggers the enhancement.

Penal Code § 12022.53 – Personal Use of a Firearm During the Commission of a Serious or Violent Felony

If you use a gun during the commission of a “serious” or violent felony, you will face a ten-year enhancement. Serious or violent felonies include mayhem, murder, robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, and rape.

Gang Enhancements

California Gang Enhancements

In addition to firearm enhancements, California law also allows for a judge to add time to your sentence if you committed a crime “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in criminal conduct by gang members.”

Depending on the situation, California gang enhancements add 2, 3, 4, 5, or 10 years to your sentence.

What Is The California Three Strikes Law?

California also has a strict recidivist sentencing enhancement statute, known as the three-strikes law. Under the three-strikes law, anyone convicted of a crime faces a prison term twice as long as they would otherwise receive if they have one prior conviction for a serious felony. And, if you have two prior serious felony convictions, you face a prison term of at least 25 years to life.

Judicial Discretion in Sentencing

Recent California criminal justice reform measures permit judges the exercise greater discretion in striking enhancements. However, while judges can strike an enhancement in many cases, they are under no obligation to do so. Thus, it is essential for those who face one or more California sentencing enhancements to have an experienced Modesto criminal defense attorney at their side to ensure as low a sentence as possible.


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Are You Facing Criminal Charges in Stanislaus County?

If you were recently arrested and charged with a violent crime, reach out to the Law Office of Rebecka A. Monez for immediate assistance. Attorney Monez is an experienced Stanislaus County criminal defense attorney who is uniquely dedicated to each of her clients’ cases. Understanding that these serious cases take an immense amount of attention, Attorney Monez limits her caseload to ensure that she can provide every person she helps with the attention and dedication they deserve. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 209.554.6446 You can also connect with us through our online contact form.

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Cases We Handle

The Law Office of Rebecka A. Monez handles a wide range of criminal cases in state and federal court on behalf of clients from all walks of life. Some of the cases we handle most often include:

Domestic Violence Charges

Drug Offenses

DUI Offenses


Federal Crimes

Fraud Crimes

Gun and Weapons Charges



Sex Crimes

Violations of Probation

Violent Crimes

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