How Does A Prior Arrest Or Conviction Impact A Criminal Case?
We have presumptive sentencing here in Oregon. Every time you get a misdemeanor or a felony, they put you in a presumptive grid block. We have sentencing guidelines that the courts must follow here. If you have a criminal history, then you are going to be moving into the other county. If you more than four personal misdemeanor or non-personal misdemeanors or if you have any prior possession, or distribution charges, that can place you in a different kind of presumptive block. Especially in Oregon, we have a repeat property offender’s statute. If you have few or more of these serious property crimes, then you will receive a low-level property charge, with a presumptive 18-months prison sentence.
Your prior criminal history makes a difference for sentencing purposes, and for the way state approaches the case. Whether they decide to offer some special programs, or special settlement conditions, they will look at your past criminal history. They might say, “What are the chances here that this person is going to turn their life around”, or, “What are the chances that the court would send this person to prison”.
Are There Any Alternative Punishments For First Time Offenders In Oregon?
Yes, for first time offenders’ we have electronic home detention, and electronic surveillance programs. We also have treatment programs, and work release programs. Instead of going to jail, people might be eligible for those programs. We have specialty court programs where the person agrees to participate in these intensive weekly court appearances, or monthly court appearances, instead of jail time. If they participate in these intense court programs and are successful in completing them, they will not go to prison.
What Qualities Should I Look For When Hiring A Criminal Defense Attorney?
When hiring a criminal defense attorney you want to look for somebody that speaks the same language as you. Find out what is important to you is just as important to them. Are they listening to you, are they hearing your side of the story, do they have the time to listen to you or are they somebody that interjects a lot and kind of discounts your opinion, and shuts you down. Find the right fit. Have somebody who takes the reins and tells you what is going to happen and is forthcoming with all possible options.
The best attorneys that I know are attorneys that team effectively with their clients and take a collaborative approach on how to protect their client’s best interest. I think some red flags that clients face are attorneys that promise certain outcomes. They will say we will go to trial and win. Any of these promises are inappropriate; no attorney can predict an outcome in a jury trial. That is a huge red flag.
What Sets You Apart In Handling Criminal Cases?
I take a collaborative approach to my cases. From the beginning, I ask my clients what are the three most important things that you make sure I help you accomplish with these proceedings. Find out what is important to your client, what is important to them. I am always available for my clients, I am good communicator, and I always trust the process. There is an education component here so they understand what they are doing, and why we approach with different strategies. Your client needs to understand the criminal justice system. When we proceed to trial, for purposes of evidence or playing to jurors what appeals to the jury, and explaining to your client why we approach each step this way. It is so important to allow your client to be knowledgeable of their case.
Some of the older attorneys who have been around for a long time, they practiced law differently back then. You essentially went into their office your lawyer tells you how it is going to go down. You just sat there and you are somewhat left sitting there not knowing what is going to happen. I think we are in an era where the access to information, not saying it is correct information, but you have access to information necessarily that people did not have in the past. Back then, they blindly just trusted whatever the counsel did and said was the right answer. I think now, as lawyers, we have the greater responsibility to educate our clients, and to explain why we are suggesting that they do certain things this way.
Especially with Google, it often could be both doctors’ and lawyers’ worst nightmares. There is Google law school, so people who get on Google just assume, I read that so and so through this website in this state, and it applies to my case and this case law in Missouri applies to my case. Every state is different. There might be some similar constitutional language that we can show you where or how Oregon’s interpreted those things, but you cannot just read somebody’s blog somewhere in a different state how their case panned out and assume that is the way that your case is going to work. I think that is where our responsibility as attorneys needs to change compared to the past. I take that seriously. When we both agree on choosing the best path that is the way I treat my clients now.
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