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Portland Criminal Law Blog

Looking at the consequences of underage DUI charges

When a driver of any age is accused of operating their vehicle while intoxicated due to alcohol or drug use, the charges are very serious. However, they can be especially damaging for certain people, such as a young person who has their entire life ahead of them. If you are a teen driver who was recently charged with drunk driving, or your child is facing charges over underage DUI allegations, it is critical to take a careful look at the details surrounding the case and approach these charges properly. In Portland, and all over Oregon, underage DUI charges can have short-term and long-term consequences for young drivers and their families.

When someone is charged with underage DUI, they may face a number of immediate consequences, from losing their driving privileges to costly financial penalties and even spending time behind bars. Moreover, some drivers do not realize that laws differ for drivers under the age of 21 with respect to drunk driving and that even a very small amount of alcohol in one's system may put them above the legal limit.

Why do people confess to a crime they didn’t commit?

A suspect’s confession can be the linchpin that seals their guilty verdict. But, even when someone confesses, it doesn’t always mean they are guilty. Innocent people can confess to a crime they didn’t commit, but how does this happen and why? Here are some possible explanations for why false confessions happen.


Eyewitness (mis)ID: 5 things to know about challenging tainted identifications

For generations, eyewitness identification evidence was given too much value in the legal system, leading to a tragic number of wrongful convictions.

Today, we should know better. Even when a witness seeks to tell the truth, eyewitness accounts are often flawed by the fallibility of memories. And to make matters worse, many misidentifications are based on lies told by witnesses. Others are the result of deliberate misconduct by police in using misleading lineups or other problematic procedures.

Here are five things to know and how these tainted identifications occur and what can be done about them.

False confessions: Netflix still featuring high-profile cases

In the Netflix documentary series Making a Murder, filmmakers alleged that police and prosecutors in a murder/rape case in a rural Wisconsin county coerced a confession from a 16-year-old child with extremely low intelligence. The series attracted international interest and will be back for a second season.

The filmmakers will have plenty more ground to cover, as there continue to be procedural developments in the case. In this post, we will discuss how true-crime documentaries reflect the ongoing problem of wrongful conviction in the U.S. justice system.

5 FAQs on exonerations

It might seem like a long shot, getting your criminal conviction overturned. And it's certainly true that you can take nothing for granted.

But the fact of the matter is that there were a record number of exonerations last year in the United States.

In this post, we'll use a Q & A format to dig into some of the numbers that quantify this.

An off-campus brawl and the fear of Measure 11 sentencing

Fights that break out among college students are not unusual. There could be a tussle among the members of competitive fraternities after a baseball game, or a brawl that breaks out at an off-campus bar. However, if the fight becomes vicious or weapons are used, the resulting assault charges could be serious.

Measure 11 outlines strict minimum sentencing requirements for assault convictions, which include jail time. If your son is charged with assault, a defense attorney experienced with allegations at this level will work toward the best possible outcome for his case.

How post-conviction relief differs from an appeal

Two common ways to challenge the results of a criminal proceeding may include appealing to a higher court or initiating a motion for post-conviction relief in the trial court.

An appellate court will only review questions of law. This means you can only use an appeal to argue the trial judge made a legal mistake that resulted in your convictions.

Why false confessions are so common

About 25 percent of people who receive a wrong conviction either made a false confession or an incriminating statement that prosecutors then used to convict them. Why would an innocent person confess to a crime? Unfortunately, it happens all too often, according to the Innocence Project, which reports 254 people exonerated in the past two decades. 

A false confession is an untrue statement the defendant makes which authorities treat as a confession. They may also misinterpret something the defendant says as a confession when he or she did not mean it to be an admission of guilt. Authorities may also claim that the defendant made a confession, even though the defendant denies it. 

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.

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