In an effort to stop the constant revolving door of people who are in and out of the prison system, many states have enacted three strikes laws. These laws, which are in force in West Virginia, mean that the conviction of three felonies can land you in prison for life.
Now, before you say that this is a good thing, think about this. A three strikes law isn't something that takes the crime into account. This means that a person can face life in prison for being convicted three times for writing hot checks. While hot checks are certainly a nuisance, there really isn't any reason for a person to face life in prison for this offense.
West Virginia has a component of the law that does add protections against the example just used. In the law here, one of the felony convictions has to be a violent crime. Additionally, the three felonies must be separate convictions.
The way the law works here is that on a second conviction, the prosecutor can seek to have five years added to the sentence. On the third conviction, the prosecutor can petition the court to convert the sentence to life in prison. The prosecution would have to prove that the defendants in all three cases are the same person.
While the three strikes laws are said to help keep society safe, there is some question about this. Interestingly, there might not be much that can be done when a person is facing life in prison for the three strikes law. This means that any person who is facing a felony charge should make sure that he or she is taking the time to build a defense.
Source: FindLaw, "'Three Strikes' Sentencing Laws," accessed July 05, 2017