Criminal Defense

Drug Possession

Jackson County, like law enforcement agencies nationwide, aggressively enforces narcotics laws including possession of a controlled substance, manufacture of a controlled substance and delivery of a controlled substance.  Conviction for a crime of controlled substance can lead to loss of driving privileges, mandatory drug treatment, local jail time and prison.  Other consequences include child welfare involvement, removal of your minor children form the home, loss of employment, among other things.  If you are charged with a drug related offense, you will want an attorney who is experienced in handling these cases, understands the options available for defendants in the system, and is willing to challenge the “State’s evidence” against you.

Arrest

If you are arrested for possession of a controlled substance you will most likely either be cited and released or lodged in the jail.  Depending upon a number of factors including prior record, your ties to the area and the safety of the community, the Judge may release you on your own recognizance (OR), which means you promise to come back to future court dates.  If you are not released, your attorney can approach the court to request a reduced bail so that you can get out of jail to take care of your job, your family and preserve your freedom.  There are options for first time offenders to enter into a probationary program in which the offender completes a drug treatment class, community service and is under the supervision of the probation department.  This however results in a dismissal and does not go onto your criminal record as a conviction.  This is a one-time opportunity for drug offenders.

It is possible you may be charged with manufacture or delivery of controlled substances.  You can be charged with manufacture of controlled substances even if the allegations are simply that drugs were packaged individually for sale.  You can be charged with distribution as well if a quantity of drugs were packaged and transported.  You can be charged with delivery if you are in possession of a quantity of drugs which is more than a single user would consume.  Additionally, you can be charged with delivery of drugs if the police set up a transaction to either purchase from you or arrange a purchase from you.  In Oregon, the laws for methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine have gotten stricter over the years.  The penalties are higher and the prison terms are longer.  This underscores the need for competent and experienced legal counsel who will fight for your rights.

Suppression

When police make an arrest they frequently seize controlled substances.  Sometimes clients are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and they are blamed for the drugs that are found.  An experienced attorney will look at the circumstances under which the police officers searched your vehicle, your home, your work, or your personal property.  If the police did not follow constitutional precautions against unlawful search and seizure, the evidence they find may be excluded.  That is, thrown out.  Your attorney should first look for suppression issues at the beginning of every case.  If there was not probable cause to search and/or seize your property, then your attorney can litigate what is called a motion to suppress.  That hearing is designed to show the judge that the law enforcement officer’s conduct was illegal and that your constitutional rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure were violated.  If the court finds that your rights were violated, the “tainted evidence” will be thrown out, frequently resulting in dismissal of the charges.

Murder

Murder and aggravated murder are the most serious of the violent felonies.  Oregon law defines murder as the intentional killing of another human being.  If you are charged with murder or are under suspicion of committing the crime of murder, you need to talk to an attorney immediately.  Do not discuss the allegations with law enforcement.  Stay calm and do not talk about the case until an experienced lawyer is by your side.  Do not agree to any interview without the advice and counsel of an attorney.  Do not be fooled by law enforcement simply wanting to “clear things up” or “rule you out as a suspect”.

  • Do not be afraid to exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain
  • Do not talk to law enforcement if you are suspected of or being charged with murder, manslaughter, aggravated murder or criminally negligent homicide.  There will be plenty of time to talk with your attorney later.

Murder law in Oregon

Under Oregon law a person convicted of murder is sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.  During that 25 year period of time, it is important that you behave yourself within the prison, that you avoid getting into fights, avoid violating disciplinary rules and that you avoid being insubordinate to prison staff.  These types of infractions can make it so a review board will not agree to release you after 25 years.  You must demonstrate to them that you are no longer a danger before they can release you to what is called post-prison supervision.  Post-prison supervision is essentially parole.  The term of post-prison supervision for murder is life.  You will be supervised by somebody until the end of your life.

Manslaughter in the first degree.

Manslaughter in the first degree simply means that a person is alleged to have caused the death of another human being recklessly and under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.  While that may be confusing, manslaughter is typically a homicide in which there was no intention for the deceased to die and that reckless, irresponsible conduct led to that death.  Manslaughter in the second degree means the defendant is alleged to have recklessly caused the death of another human being.  You will see that there is no allegation that the defendant acted under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

Murder is among the most complex of crimes.  It is absolutely essential to have an attorney who is experienced in these matters.  In the last 19 years I have handled over 30 murders and aggravated murders.  Additionally, I have taken more than a dozen of these to trial.  I am familiar with the issues that are likely to arise in a prosecution for murder.  I have dealt with pretrial publicity in high profile cases and do not shrink from the challenge of trying a murder trial, which in many cases may last anywhere from one week to many weeks.

If you are arrested for murder, the likelihood is that you will remain in jail until trial.  Oregon law does not require that bail be set and you can be held without bail on the charge of murder.  However, in extraordinary circumstances the court may release somebody on bail provided that they abide by many strict release conditions.  Again, this is the exception rather than the rule.

You are entitled under the United States Constitution to a speedy trial.  Under Oregon law, in-custody defendants are entitled to have their trial heard within 60 days of their arrest.  However, because of the complexity of murder and attempted murder cases, that same timeline does not apply.  Your trial will be set within a reasonable period of time, typically anywhere from nine to 18 months.  While this may seem like a lot, you are looking at a potential life sentence and there is a tremendous amount of preparation to do.

Investigation

Investigation is crucial in defending a murder case.  The prosecution and police will already have thoroughly investigated the case with as many officers as are necessary to complete their investigation.  I use experienced investigators who have experience in handling these types of cases.  My current investigator has worked on nearly 100 cases and is exceptionally skilled in investigating these sorts of cases.  Together with you and my investigator, we will interview witnesses, review police reports and conduct our own investigation.

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