Oregon misdemeanors are often viewed as minor criminal charges, but they can actually be quite serious. These crimes are distinguished from violations in that they are crimes and– upon conviction– you could be placed on probation and actually be required to serve jail time. The maximum length of probation for a misdemeanor is five years, and the maximum amount of jail time that can be imposed is one year. The maximum fine for a misdemeanor is $6,250.
List of Misdemeanor Crimes in Oregon
Some common examples of misdemeanor charges in Oregon include but are not limited to:
- Assault in the Fourth Degree
- Theft in the Second Degree
- Theft in the Third Degree
- Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII aka DUI)
- Reckless Driving
- Recklessly Endangering Another Person
- Driving While Suspended
- Carrying of Concealed Weapons
- Resisting Arrest
- False Swearing
- Disorderly Conduct
- Contributing to the Sexual Delinquency of a Minor
- Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor
Misdemeanor Classifications in Oregon
Misdemeanors are ranked according to seriousness and carry the following maximum penalties per ORS 161.635:
- Class “A” Misdemeanor: $6,250 fine and/or 1 year in jail
- Class “B” Misdemeanor: $2,500 fine and/or 6 months in jail
- Class “C” Misdemeanor: $1,250 fine and/or 30 days in jail
- “Unclassified”: The penalties as specified in the particular statute.
Oregon Misdemeanor Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for Oregon misdemeanors is generally two years. However, the determination of the exact time limits is complicated because there are many crimes in which the time for prosecution can be tolled– either by the age of the victim or other factors. Oregon law provides details for such situations in ORS 131.125. For example, the crimes of Strangulation, Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree, Exhibiting an Obscene Performance to a Minor, and Displaying Obscene Materials to Minors can be prosecuted within four years after the commission of the crime or, if the victim at the time of the crime was under 18 years of age, anytime before the victim attains 22 years of age or within four years after the offense is reported to a law enforcement agency or the Department of Human Services, whichever occurs first. Furthermore, even if the general two year statute of limitations has expired, a prosecution nevertheless may be commenced as follows:
- If the offense has as a material element either fraud or the breach of a fiduciary obligation, prosecution may be commenced within one year after discovery of the offense by an aggrieved party or by a person who has a legal duty to represent an aggrieved party and who is not a party to the offense, but in no case shall the period of limitation otherwise applicable be extended by more than three years;
- If the offense is based upon misconduct in office by a public officer or employee, prosecution may be commenced at any time while the defendant is in public office or employment or within two years thereafter, but in no case shall the period of limitation otherwise applicable be extended by more than three years; or
- If the offense is an Invasion of Personal Privacy in the Second Degree, prosecution may be commenced within one year after discovery of the offense by the person aggrieved by the offense, by a person who has a legal duty to represent the person aggrieved by the offense or by a law enforcement agency, but in no case shall the period of limitation otherwise applicable be extended by more than three years.
“What Can Be Done to Avoid a Criminal Conviction in Oregon?”
Most criminal cases in Oregon are resolved through plea negotiations. This means that the person charged with a crime typically ends up pleading “guilty” or “no contest” to one or more charges, or perhaps a lesser-included offense. However, some cases are dismissed. Some cases are also set for hearings on Motions to Suppress or Motions in Limine. If part or all of the incriminating evidence in the case is successfully suppressed or otherwise excluded, the negotiations may be stronger for the person charged, and a better plea offer may result. If critical evidence is suppressed or excluded, it may even result in a dismissal of the entire case. Misdemeanor cases can also ultimately be tried to a judge only (a bench trial) or to a jury of six.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, don’t make the mistake of assuming it’s a minor charge. Consult an attorney.