New law allows Healdsburg man who fled police to avoid longer 'third strike'

Lance Janssen hasn't led a charmed existence.

The Healdsburg man has a long criminal rap sheet, dating back to the late 1980s, and has spent much of his adulthood in jail and prison.

It looked like he was going away for life when he committed his third "strike" offense: Fleeing police last year through Fountaingrove in Santa Rosa with a loaded handgun under the seat of his motorcycle.

But fate finally smiled on the 45-year-old ex-con.

With the Nov. 6 passage of Proposition 36, which modified the three-strikes law to ease prison crowding, Janssen was able to avoid a recommended 50-years-to-life prison term and instead was sentenced to just seven years.

His relief was evident as he spoke in court Thursday morning.

"I don't want to be in trouble again," said Janssen, who was seriously injured when he crashed. "I'm very lucky."

Janssen is among the first in Sonoma County to be sentenced under the new policy approved by 69 percent of voters statewide and 76 percent in the county.

It changed the language of the landmark 1994 three-strikes law to require a third felony conviction be serious or violent instead of just any felony.

Now, criminals no longer can be sent away forever for relatively minor third offenses involving theft, simple drug offenses or some types of fraud.

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