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Change in Oregon laws could remove inmates from death row

On Behalf of | Oct 24, 2019 | Post-conviction Relief |

In Oregon, a conviction of aggravated murder can put you on death row. Aggravated murder is the only charge where courts can give you the death penalty.

There are strict guidelines Oregon courts must follow when charging and convicting someone with capital punishment. Recently, state lawmakers increased those restrictions. But by creating a more restrictive law, they opened the possibility for current death row inmates to avoid the death penalty in a retrial.

New restrictions for aggravated murder

The new law changes which cases courts can try for aggravated murder. The only cases that count as capital punishment include a terrorist killing two or more people or premeditated murder of children or law enforcement. And if someone is in prison for murder and kills another person, a court can give that prisoner the death penalty.

Current inmates can reduce charge to first-degree murder in retrial

However, Oregon lawmakers did not want to include those already convicted in the new law. They tried to exclude anybody already convicted, even if the offense didn’t qualify for the new aggravated-murder standard.

But if someone convicted of aggravated murder successfully appeals for a retrial, the charges can go down to first-degree murder if they don’t meet the new standard. Courts cannot give the death penalty for first-degree murder convictions.

New laws may reduce your charges in a retrial

If you have a conviction of aggravated murder, you are likely going through the process of appeals. You may have an appeal for your original trial. Or you might be fighting an appeal that didn’t agree to the mistakes in your case.

If you are successful in getting a retrial, the new changes in Oregon law may reduce your aggravated-murder charge.