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Portland Criminal Law Blog

Executions in Oregon limited under new state law

Oregon is limiting the possibility of future death penalty cases under a new law, even though the state has not seen an execution in more than 20 years.

The policy has already sparked controversy since going into effect on Sept. 29. That's because it could change what current and future criminal cases qualify for death sentences.

Why do people confess to crimes they did not commit?

Almost 30% of known wrongful convictions were caused, at least in part, by false confessions, according to the Innocence Project. This can be puzzling to many people, especially the family and friends of those who give false confessions.

Many people cannot picture themselves confessing to a crime they did not commit, and you, like many others, may wonder why someone would do so. Saul Kassin, who scientifically researched false confessions, learned through his research that there are three basic types of false confessions, and each type of confession occurs for different reasons.

DOJ's death penalty reinstatement brings new concerns

The U.S. government recently announced plans to reinstate the death penalty for death row prisoners after 16 years without a federal execution. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said five inmates would be executed after putting new protocols in place.

The government says it's an attempt to "seek justice against the worst criminals" and bring relief to the victims' family members. Critics say this comes at a time when executions are at an all-time low due to the death penalty's deep racial bias, its high costs and inaccurate convictions.

Successful appeal grants man the right to sue city, authorities

When a person is convicted of a crime in Oregon, they have the right to file an appeal to try and get the judge's ruling overturned. If this effort is successful, the alleged criminal may face a lesser charge or be acquitted of crime entirely. Whether or not an appeals claim is granted is related to the nature of the crime that was committed, the legal professionals in charge of the case and the amount of evidence that is found.

For one Ohio man, the outcome of his effort to appeal his conviction was incredibly successful and has left him in a position where he can legally sue the authorities who arrested him, as well as the city where the conflicting incident took place. It all began when the man constructed a controversial Facebook post that was poking fun at a local police department. The parody he created, while insulting and offensive to some, was ultimately found to be protected under the First Amendment as the man was using free speech.

Negotiation may help reduce legal fines

When people are hit with a misdemeanor offense in Oregon for the first time, depending on the reason why they were cited in the first place, their consequences could be anything from a legal fine to a more serious consequence. In some circumstances, people may be able to negotiate a settlement on the fine they have received to reduce its impact on their long-term financial standing. 

Perhaps the most important thing for people to remember is that trying to negotiate a lower fine may not always be an option, but when it is, it is critical that they are prompt in seeking to work something out with the court before it is too late. Gobankingrates.com suggests that a person's decision to be proactive and begin communicating with the authorities and the courts immediately is often the most effective way for them to work out a deal. 

Why does eyewitness misidentification occur?

When you face charges for a crime you did not commit, you trust that the criminal justice system will uncover the truth and restore your freedom. However, due to a number of factors, wrongful convictions can occur.

According to the Innocence Project, mistaken identification or eyewitness identification is the leading contributor to wrongful convictions across Oregon and the rest of the country. In fact, this contributed to 71% of more than 360 wrongful convictions. Many have long debated the accuracy of the identification process, arguing that it places too much of an emphasis on human memory.

Exonerations due to wrongful convictions: The stats

Since 1989, 2,468 people have been exonerated of their crimes nationwide. This number accumulates to over 21,000 years of life lost in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. An average of nearly nine years lost per case.

Since 1989, 19 men and women were exonerated in Oregon - totaling 74 years of life lost. An average of nearly four years per case.

Addressing criminal convictions in a job interview

For many convicted criminals in Oregon, facing a lifetime of guilt for the mistakes they made that landed them in trouble, is not the only consequence of their actions that they face. Once released after having served all of the legal consequences recommended by the courts, criminals face a unique set of challenges as they work to rebuild their reputation and create a successful life for themselves outside of prison walls. 

One of the difficulties they may encounter is juggling their criminal history with their efforts to get a job that will enable them to live comfortably without relying on other people. While many employers will hire previously convicted criminals with a few contingencies, Monster.com reports that nearly 46 percent of surveyed employers said that their interviews include some type of question related to an applicant's criminal past. Additionally, 73 percent acknowledged that they conduct a criminal background check on applicants looking for a job at their organization. 

Fate decided for man who fatally injured two in crash

When people are facing charges for driving drunk in Oregon, investigators should perform a full-length investigation to determine whether or not the accused has indeed participated in the behaviors that he or she was accused of. Depending on the severity of the accident and whether or not other people were involved, the consequences a person may be facing could vary significantly. 

For one man in Bakersfield, California, his decision to drive while drunk resulted in the tragic deaths of a mother and her daughter. The original accident happened when both parties were traveling on Taft Highway. The man's car slammed into the victims' vehicle and the impact ultimately killed both of the occupants. Further investigations revealed that the man had previously faced other charges for driving drunk in the previous 15 years. There were two other DUI charges on his record, as well as one charge for being "wet reckless." In all three charges, the man had been formally convicted.

What can you do after a failed appeal?

A failed appeal may not be the end of your defense in Oregon. The law allows people who have a variety of circumstances to get a chance to file for something called post-conviction relief. It would take a specific analysis to determine whether you could be eligible for this option.

Generally speaking, however, anyone who failed an appeal could potentially benefit from this option. Your imprisonment could even end depending on the outcome of your efforts. Here are some more details along with some common situations that form the basis of these actions.

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