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Portland Criminal Law Blog

What crimes are eligible to be set aside?

An arrest or conviction on your record can change your future, but under some circumstances it is possible to change that record. Oregon state law does not allow expungement, but the reference “setting aside the conviction/arrest” is nearly the same expression, according to the process as outlined by the Washington County Circuit Court. In essence, when the court grants one of these motions, the record of the arrest or the conviction is set aside, so that the applicant is legally not considered to have been arrested or convicted.

If you have only a single conviction, you must wait at least three years before filing the motion to set aside this conviction. The application process is complex, and it takes about three months for the paperwork to go through channels. However, if it is approved, your record will be cleared. 

Immigration consequences of a criminal conviction

President Trump's immigration ban was big news in the early days of the new administration. This news story was more prominent than another executive order also signed in the first few weeks of the new presidency. This order expanded the population of immigrants which could be picked up for deportation. According to U.S. immigration authorities, raids are now targeting undocumented immigrants with criminal records, but those without criminal records can be deported. However, even lawful permanent residents have reason to be concerned, especially if they have a criminal conviction on their record.

More on 'Making a Murderer': FAQs on the problem of false confessions

A lot has happened in the Making a Murderer case since we wrote about it last year.

At the time of our August 23 post, a federal magistrate judge had just overturned the rape-and-murder conviction of Brendan Dassey, a 16-year-old boy with very limited intelligence. The judge ruled that investigators had violated Dassey's constitutional rights by coercing his confession.

The ruling came after filmmakers from the Netflix documentary Making a Murder called international attention to the procedural problems in the case.

Dassey isn't out of prison yet, however. Wisconsin authorities are appealing the magistrate's ruling. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in Chicago heard oral arguments in the case.

In this post, we will address some frequently asked questions about false confessions.

Can I get relief from registering as a sex offender?

A sexual offense crime has several layers of consequences, and one of these consequences is the requirement to register as a sex offender. This can prohibit you from getting a job, a home or even going back to school. Fortunately, for some sex offenses, there are means to get relief from having to register as an offender. In January, new laws went into effect for registration and relief as a sex offender. The first steps toward relief is knowing your classification as a sex offender.

How common are false convictions?

Most of our nation's public school systems teach a few fundamental concepts about our criminal justice system as core beliefs that motivate Americans as a whole. Among those are the right to a fair trial, by a jury, that convicts based on evidence beyond all reasonable doubt. In theory, this should lead to a fair and impartial way of deciding who is and is not guilty. According to research, though, what happens in practice is completely different.

Post-conviction relief as an option after other avenues exhausted

Once the jury has come back with a guilty verdict and a defendant has been sentenced, there is an appeals process to go through if they believe they did not get a fair trial for some reason. Once that process has been exhausted and the defendant is still facing time in jail or prison, there is another option that many turn to. Even after a guilty conviction and a loss of appeals, post-conviction relief may provide some hope to defendants convicted of crimes. There are several options to choose from when looking for some way to minimize a sentence or overturn a verdict, and post-conviction relief may come after other avenues are exhausted.

Preventing wrongful convictions: state and local governments starting to take action

In the third and final presidential debate, moderator Chris Wallace didn't ask any questions about criminal justice.

Maybe he should have. After all, reform of the criminal justice system to reduce racial disparities and prevent wrongful convictions is an urgent issue. The arrival on the scene of DNA evidence has become a gamechanger, exposing the fact that far too often, the justice system has convicted innocent people.

In this post, let's take a look at a couple of examples of how state and local governments are starting to take action to help prevent wrongful convictions.

Wrongful conviction: What are the most common causes?

Only two decades ago, the view that the criminal justice system works well, and that wrongful convictions are uncommon, was much more plausible than it is today.

Now, of course, DNA evidence has changed the game, resulting in numerous exonerations. Troubling police shootings, often of unarmed minority men, and an emerging awareness of the problem of mass incarceration have added to the growing concerns.

Obviously we can't take on the entire gamut of those issues in one blog post. But let's ask this question: What are the most common causes of wrongful convictions?

Netflix as gamechanger: a real-life case of post-conviction relief

Netflix has had a transformative effect on many people's media habits. Not that long ago, watching shows in "real time," over broadcast networks, was still the norm. Now streaming selected shows has changed the game.

But can a Netflix documentary also be a gamechanger for a wrongful criminal conviction?

In this post, we will discuss the real-life Wisconsin case the prompts this question and has given rise to a popular documentary series called Making a Murderer.

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