Oregon Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

There’s no doubting the fact any crime relating to domestic violence can be an extremely sensitive subject. In fact, it’s absolutely shameful that spouses and partners sometimes abuse each other. In a recent report issued by the Portland Police Bureau, in Portland alone, there are an average of 79 reported cases of domestic violence per week.  But while many of these are legitimate reports of domestic violence, there are countless men and women throughout Oregon, as well as nationwide, that are wrongfully accused of domestic violence each and every year. 

Oregon Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence? We Can Help.

False allegations surrounding cases of domestic violence tend to make deciphering the truth even more complicated than it already is. For instance, state prosecutors have a lawful duty to punish those who commit violent domestic crimes. However, in the midst of any argument between individuals, it’s not uncommon for one party to falsely accuse the other individual of violence or the threat of violence, solely in order to gain an upper hand. Therefore, although legitimate acts of domestic violence do occur all too often, the very nature of a domestic dispute often leads to false allegations, and innocent people are often charged, and end up facing the consequences of crimes that they did not commit. 

In fact, man or woman, when a person is wrongfully accused of domestic violence, not only do they unjustly end up facing severe penal consequences, but it can leave them completely lost, devastated, angry, and terrified of facing a conviction and potential jail time. 

Therefore, when this sort of scenario happens, it’s important to have a good defense attorney by your side to help you avoid facing legal punishments that you don’t deserve. 

But the fact is that domestic violence can be a touchy subject. 

And between false accusations and all the “he-said-she-they-said” that comes along with domestic disagreements, there’s a lot to take in and understand about what is and isn’t involved in domestic violence.

So keep reading, and we’ll dive into everything you’ll ever need to know about a case of domestic violence in the state of Oregon. 

What Is Considered As “Domestic Violence” In The State Of Oregon?  

Although most people think that domestic violence is a easily understood as abusing your partner or spouse, it’s important to understand that the informal or commonly understood definition of what constitutes “domestic abuse” or “domestic abuse” can be very different than what is considered “domestic violence” under Oregon law. While any crime associated with domestic violence generally carries with it a certain emotion and a stigma, that is separate from the legal definitions under Oregon state law. Therefore, understanding what is truly considered domestic violence under black-letter Oregon state law is vital in helping you know where you stand when dealing with these types of allegations. 

According to Oregonlaws.org, in the state of Oregon, the term “domestic violence” refers to any form of abuse between family or household members. 

The term “abuse”, on the other hand, according to ORS 135.230, refers to “(a) attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing physical injury, (b) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly placing another in fear of imminent serious physical injury, or (c) committing sexual abuse in any degree. 

It’s important to note that, under Oregon law, the term “domestic violence” is a modifier used solely to describe a type of violent act, where the crime is committed by a family or household member, or by someone with whom the victim has been physically intimate with.

So, for example, while a charge for an assault that happened publicly would likely be charged as “Assault IV” under Oregon state law, an assault perpetrated by a spouse is typically charged as “Assault IV – Constituting Domestic Violence”. 

Additionally, a case of domestic violence can be made complicated depending on who is involved in the situation. 

Therefore, while a large percentage of domestic violence cases will involve a male and female couple, according to ORS 135.230, a “family or household member” can be defined as a spouse, former spouse, adult persons related by blood or marriage, a person cohabitating with another, a person cohabitating with another that involves a sexually intimate relationship, or the unmarried parent of a minor child. 

Understanding the clear, concise definition of domestic violence is paramount in understanding where you stand in these types of situations, and the potential consequences that you may be facing. 

With that said, let’s take a look at the most common charges associated with acts of domestic violence. 

The Most Common Domestic Violence Charges In Oregon

When we talk about domestic violence, it’s important to understand that the term may be used to describe multiple different types of violent acts perpetrated by a family or household member. 

Therefore, individuals dealing with a case of domestic violence in the state of Oregon may be facing any number of the following charges: 

  • Assault IV – Misdemeanor
  • Harassment – Misdemeanor
  • Menacing – Misdemeanor
  • Reckless Endangering – Misdemeanor
  • Coercion – Felony
  • Strangulation – Misdemeanor

Most all of the domestic violence crimes in Oregon are actually non-domestic crimes which have been plead as domestic violence crimes due to the nature of the alleged perpetrator and alleged victim. As mentioned before, Oregon law has a specific modifier which makes certain crimes “domestic violence” according to how they are plead in the charging instrument.

ORS 132.586 states, in “Pleading domestic violence in accusatory instrument,” that:

(1)As used in this section, “domestic violence” has the meaning given that term in ORS 135.230 (definitions)

(2)When a crime involves domestic violence, the accusatory instrument may plead, and the prosecution may prove at trial, domestic violence as an element of the crime. When a crime is so pleaded, the words “constituting domestic violence” may be added to the title of the crime.

As previously mentioned, ORS 135.230 essentially defines the term “domestic violence” as any form of abuse between family or household members.

So now, to help you get a better idea of what each of these charges entails, let’s take a better look at each one individually. 

Assault 4 (Assault in the Fourth Degree) – Constituting Domestic Violence

Considered a misdemeanor under Oregon state law, an individual commits assault when they intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause any type of physical injury to another person. 

Assault 4 may also be charged as a felony when the assault is committed with criminal negligence, causes physical injury to another person by using a deadly weapon, or a motor vehicle. 

Assault 4 is more commonly charged when the alleged assault occurred in the immediate presence of, or is witnessed by, the accused’s or the alleged victim’s minor child or stepchild or a minor child residing within the household of the accused or alleged victim; or the accused has previously convicted of Assault 4; or the accused commits the assault knowing that the alleged victim is pregnant. 

Harassment – Constituting Domestic Violence

Harassment is also considered as a misdemeanor in the state of Oregon, and by law is defined as intentionally exposing another party to either annoying or harassing forms of contact. 

This means that harassment charges don’t necessarily involve any type of physical contact or injury, and may involve either verbal, physical, or written forms of contact. 

Menacing – Constituting Domestic Violence

According to ORS 163.190, charges of menacing may be brought against any individuals that have intentionally placed another person or persons in fear of serious personal injury. 

Additionally, and similar to harassment charges, menacing charges don’t necessarily need to involve any form of physical injury. 

Reckless Endangering – Constituting Domestic Violence

Often mistaken referred to as “reckless endangerment”, a charge of Reckless Endangering can be brought up against an individual when they’ve recklessly engaged in any form of conduct that has created a serious risk of causing physical injury to another person. 

In most cases, no physical injury is required. However, charges of reckless endangering are often brought alongside DUIs in the state of Oregon. 

Restraining Order Violation

During virtually all domestic violence situations, a restraining order or a No Contact order may be issued to prevent the accused offender from contacting the alleged victim in any way, shape, or form. 

Violating these orders, either by calling, texting, emailing, visiting in person, or by contacting third-parties like friends and relatives may result in additional charges brought against an individual. 

Coercion – Constituting Domestic Violence

Coercion is yet another very serious charge that is often brought up during cases of domestic violence. 

Under ORS 163.275, coercion is considered as a felony offense, defined by threatening another person in order to either (a) prevent them from doing something freely, or (b) to force them to do something against their will. 

Note that acts of coercion don’t necessarily include physical injury. 

Strangulation – Constituting Domestic Violence

Although it’s only considered as a misdemeanor charge, strangulation is often seen as a very violent act and a serious crime in the eyes of Oregon law enforcement officials. 

Strangulation is defined as knowingly or intentionally preventing blood flow or breathing by applying pressure to a person’s neck. 

Whether related to assault, harassment, menacing, or reckless endangering, domestic violence cases can bring serious allegations against the accused, resulting in serious fines, probation, and potential jail time. 

Therefore, if you or anyone you know is in the process of having any of these charges brought up against them, it’s time to speak to a lawyer now

What Happen During Police Investigations Of Domestic Violence In Oregon  

The investigation of virtually any case of domestic violence starts with a recorded phone call to 911, either from the alleged victim themselves, or a concerned neighbor, friend, or family member who might suspect that an abuse has taken place. 

Once the complaint has been made, an officer of the peace will respond to the call to take statements and create a report. 

In some cases, the responding officers will be using body cameras or digital audio recorders for their own and your safety. However, most of the time, police officers will not be wearing any type of recording device.. 

Upon arrival, if there are any serious visible injuries to the victim, they will be treated, at which time, the officers may or may not take photographs of the injuries. 

On the other hand, photographic evidence is rarely taken because they don’t fully explain what happened during the confrontation, or which party attacked the other part first, causing the injuries. 

Regardless, at this point, the responding officers will start by interviewing both the alleged victim and the accused separately, and due to Oregon’s mandatory domestic violence arrest statute, the accused is likely to be arrested and brought into the station to be booked.  

The biggest issue with this is that police officers often make mistakes as to which party said what about the situation, sometimes leading to direct quotes being attributed to the wrong individual, which, in some cases, are exaggerated or completely inaccurate. 

While it’s fair for any person who commits a violent crime to face the consequences of their actions, unfortunately, situations of domestic violence often lead to false allegations being brought against innocent individuals. 

And at the same time, in court, if there’s ever any type of inconsistencies found in either the alleged victim’s or the accused’s statements, these can often be used against the accused in order to make them seem dishonest about the situation. 

Therefore, the single most important thing to remember when dealing with a case of domestic violence is to never, ever speak with the police until you’ve spoken to a criminal defense lawyer

The fact is that, due to a lack of recorded evidence, it’s virtually impossible for police officers to accurately document all factors pertaining to a case of domestic violence situation. especially in a manner that is both fair and just for the accused, and which doesn’t subject them to self-incrimination. 

In the end, just make sure to remain silent to avoid accidentally speaking or admitting to anything that may be used against you in court. 

Contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  

No Contact Orders – And What To Do About Them

In most cases, after either a citation has been issued against an individual or when an arrest has been made for domestic violence in the state of Oregon, the accused will likely be faced with a No Contact, restraining order, which prohibits the accused from contacting the victim in any way, shape, or form. 

As mentioned, this includes contacting the alleged victim either in person, by email, phone, or via text message, as well as attempting to contact them via third-parties, such as friends and relatives. 

Additionally, some No Contact orders may also prevent the accused from contacting any third-party individuals who may be used in court as witnesses. And, in some cases, a No Contact order may even prevent the accused from returning to their home, or to the home where the alleged victim resides.  

Failure to abide by a No Contact order may result in arrest, as well as additional charges being brought against the accused in court. 

Not to mention the fact that, even if an individual is being falsely accused of domestic violence, violating their No Contact orders will only make things look worse in the eyes of the judge and jury. 

So, for any individual who’s been issued a No Contact order, please, do yourself a favor and avoid violating these orders at all costs. 

Even if you believe that you’ve been falsely accused and that you’ve done nothing wrong, it’s best to simply stay away from the alleged victim until the situation is cleared up. 

Oregon’s Mandatory Domestic Violence Arrest Statute

When a complaint of domestic violence is called in, the responding officers may issue a criminal citation to the accused if there is no probable cause to believe that the person in question has committed a misdemeanor or a felony. 

However, when probably cause is present, the state of Oregon has taken a strong stance against domestic violence and abuse. 

In fact, today, in the state Oregon, alongside 33 other states across the country, you’ll find a mandatory domestic arrest statute, where officers have the authority to make an arrest any time there is probable cause of an assault having taken place, or when any person is found in violation of a No Contact order, 

Therefore, no matter what type of domestic violence situation you’re involved in, even if you’re completely innocent, upon arrival, if any one of the parties involved has any visible injuries, the accused party will be arrested. 

If one of the parties involved simply states that they were threatened with violence, even if there are no apparent injuries, the accused party will be arrested. 

In fact, even if the injured party, or the alleged victim, doesn’t want to press charges, the other party will still be arrested in compliance with Oregon’s mandatory domestic violence arrest statute, under ORS 133.055, subsection 2(a):

“Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, when a peace officer responds to an incident of domestic disturbance and has probable cause to believe that an assault has occurred between family or household members, as defined in ORS 107.705 (Definitions for ORS 107.700 to 107.735), or to believe that one such person has placed the other in fear of imminent serious physical injury, the officer shall arrest and take into custody the alleged assailant or potential assailant.”

So, with that being said, if you’re involved in a case of domestic violence, even if you’re 100% innocent and being falsely accused of a crime, it’s important to realize that you may be arrested, handcuffed, brought to jail, fingerprinted, and booked. 

Therefore, during these types of situations, once again, an individual’s 5th Amendment is going to be their best friend. And essentially, the less an accused individual says during their arrest, the better their chances will be of a positive outcome if taken to court. 

In the end, the fact is that when a person makes a claim of domestic violence against their spouse or partner, one of the two parties is going to be arrested. And, unfortunately, no matter what you say or do during these times is going to change this outcome. 

In fact, the things you say during your arrest can and will be used against you in the courtroom. 

Therefore, it’s always recommended to remain silent, and as soon as you can, speak to a criminal defense lawyer with experience dealing with domestic violence cases. 

Domestic Violence Penalties In Oregon

As with being convicted of any type of crime, the penalties and legal repercussions are going to vary significantly depending on a variety of factors, such as the specific charges being brought against an individual, the severity of their crimes, and whether or not they have a criminal history.

However, in most cases of domestic violence in the state of Oregon, an individual is likely to be charged with either a Class A, B, or C misdemeanor, or a Class A, B, or C Felony, depending on the specific crime that’s been perpetrated.  

While misdemeanor crimes are generally considered as less serious, and don’t involve particularly lengthy jail sentences, felony charges may result in fines and penalties of up to $375,500, as well as minimum jail sentences of up to 20 years. 

With that being said, it’s easy to see how serious domestic violence charges truly are in the eyes of Oregon law enforcement officials. And even misdemeanor charges for domestic violence can result in sentences of 30-days to 364-days, and up to $6,250 in fines. 

Therefore, if either your or a loved one is currently involved in any type of domestic violence allegations, it is preeminent that you contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. 

What To Expect During A Domestic Violence Trial In Oregon

As with any crime, there is no one-size-fits-all model for what to expect during a trial. 

However, whether an individual is innocent or not, navigating a domestic violence trial can be daunting, intimidating, upsetting, and truly frightening. After all, there’s really know way of knowing what’s going to happen to them upon sentencing. 

But ultimately, what a trial will look like will depend entirely on whether a person is being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony offense. 

For instance, misdemeanor crimes are usually tried by a jury of 6 peers, while a felony charge will land an accused individual in front of 12 jurors. 

Alternatively, there’s also the possibility of a bench trial, where you’ll be tried solely in front of a judge. 

However, a bench trial is rare and is typically only used in the face of heavily prejudicial material, such as cases involving any type of graphic photographic evidence, serious charges of strangulation, or sexual abuse, especially when children are involved.  

Domestic Violence Diversion Program In Oregon

Diversion programs are often confused with plea bargains, but there are a few key differences that set the two apart. 

For instance, with a plea bargain, an individual pleads guilty and is sentenced accordingly for their crime. However, their sentencing is reduced, or some other concessions are made by the prosecutor in exchange for their guilty plea. 

On the other hand, a Diversion program is designed to provide first-time offenders with a chance to reform themselves, and avoid being convicted of domestic violence.   

In the state of Oregon, some individuals may be eligible for the Domestic Violence Diversion program in order to avoid jail time. 

The Diversion program is available in most, but not all Oregon counties. 

However, it’s only being available to individuals who have been charged with a misdemeanor. And, in order to be eligible, an individual must also be a first-time offender, and mustn’t have any prior convictions.

It’s also important to understand that, in order to be accepted into the program, individuals must still plead guilty, however, sentencing will not be carried out at the time of the plea. Instead, the accused will be required to complete a 36 to 48-week Batterer’s Intervention Program, and will be responsible for paying all fees and costs associated with joining the program. 

Then, upon successfully completing the program, the individual will be able to withdraw their guilty plea, and the misdemeanor charge may be dismissed from their criminal record. 

Diversion programs are extremely stringent, and if an individual is ever found to be in violation of any laws or legal orders, their guilty plea will automatically be processed by the system, and they’ll be convicted of their crime without it being brought to trial. 

However, it’s important to note that cases of Domestic Violence are often very hard to prove, and because the consequences of failing the program are so high, it’s typically advised to take a case to trial, rather than entering into the Diversion program. 

To learn more about Oregon DV Diversion programs, don’t hesitate to contact Romano Law today

Domestic Violence Plea Bargains In Oregon

Crimes involving acts of domestic violence are always taken very seriously by law enforcement.  

Unfortunately, this means that Oregon state prosecutors don’t typically like to make plea bargains regarding cases of domestic violence. 

However, if you’ve been accused of domestic violence, it doesn’t mean that you’re out of options. 

By consulting with an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible, you increase your chances of having your charges dropped, or in the very least, reduced, potentially keeping you out of jail. 

In the end, the very nature of domestic disputes make it so that it’s not uncommon to see both men and women falsely accuse their partners of violence or abuse. 

And while these types of crimes should never go unpunished when they’ve truly been perpetrated, when they’re made falsely, innocent individuals often end up facing serious consequences for things they didn’t do.

Don’t let yourself be a victim!  

Domestic Violence Defenses In Oregon

If you or a loved one is ever involved in any type of domestic dispute where the cops have been called, it’s time to  seek legal counsel as soon as possible. 

In the eyes of Oregon state law, accusations of domestic violence are taken very seriously. And, the sad truth is that, even when false allegations are brought against a person, they may end up facing serious financial and legal consequences, including jail time, for crimes they did not commit. 

What’s more, is that by nature, many cases of domestic violence involve a significant amount of hearsay, making it even more challenging for prosecutors to decipher the truth. Unfortunately, this often leads to innocent men and women being falsely accused of crimes that may not have even happened. 

And finally, because Oregon law enforcement abides under a mandatory domestic violence arrest statute, if the police are ever called on an individual accusing them of domestic violence, even if they’re completely innocent, they will still be arrested at the scene.

In the end, there’s no doubting the fact that any form of domestic violence is a very serious, heinous charge, which should never go unpunished. But innocent people should never have to face the consequences of crimes they didn’t commit. 

Therefore, if you’re involved in a case of domestic violence, it’s vital to consult with a criminal defense lawyer, who is not only experienced in criminal cases, but who is also experienced in cases of domestic violence. 

Falsely Accused Of Domestic Violence In Oregon? It’s Time To Lawyer Up! 

Not only is being falsely accused of domestic violence a devastating experience, but if you don’t exercise your rights in due time, it’s very possible that you might end up facing serious legal repercussions, and possibly even jail time, for crimes that you didn’t commit.  

Therefore, if you or someone you know is being falsely accused of domestic violence in the state of Oregon, it’s time to talk to a lawyer, and learn how to protect your rights. 

Contact Romano Law Now!

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