Arrested in Portland for Commercial Sexual Solicitation?

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Arrested in Portland for Hiring a Prostitute? You may be able to get the case dismissed through the community court program. This program, unique to Multnomah County, is for people charged with Commercial Sexual Solicitation, a Class A misdemeanor. Commercial Sexual Solicitation was formerly known as Patronizing a Prostitute, or Prostitution.

THE PROGRAM

The community court program is not available for people charged with prostitution related felonies, such as Promoting Prostitution and Compelling Prostitution.

If you successfully complete the program, the judge will dismiss your case. The program requires that you remain crime free for 6 months and that you attend a 1 day “Johns” class. The class costs around $1,000. The class is usually offered on a Saturday. It is held once a month, or once every other month. If you live out of state, you will need to make arrangements to attend the class. But, I may be able to have your appearances in court waived.

THE DISMISSAL

Many people believe that once the judge dismisses the charge of Commercial Sexual Solicitation, the records are automatically erased. This is not true. There are still court records, DA records, and police records we will need to have sealed (commonly called “expungement”).

We can begin the process of having the record of arrest (or citation) expunged as soon as the judge dismisses your case. Once the judge signs the expungement order, you may swear under oath that you have never been arrested or cited for a crime. We can also take steps to ensure that the record does not appear on any internet background searches.

I have worked with many people accused of Commercial Sexual Solicitation and Prostitution related crimes. I understand and appreciate my clients’ needs for discretion. And I work with them to resolve their cases and expungements as quickly and smoothly as possible.

CHANGES TO OREGONS EXPUNGEMENT LAW MEANS POSITIVE CHANGES FOR YOU

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Oregon’s legislators have made some changes to ORS 137.225, commonly referred to as the expungement statute. So what’s the big news? More people than ever are now eligible to move forward with their expungements. Having a clean slate can positively affect someone’s work, family, and emotional life.

Most of the changes are positive, and all changes go into effect January 1, 2016.

Let’s start with the good stuff:

  1. Convictions for B Felony drug possession crimes will now be eligible for expungement without having to wait 20 years. This covers people convicted of possessing heroin, LSD, MDMA/ecstasy, psilocybin, and other schedule 1 controlled substances.
  2. Allows one non-traffic violation conviction without re-tolling the ten year waiting period for an expungement. This means that someone with an eligible misdemeanor or felony conviction and a violation conviction can have the misdemeanor or felony expunged now, rather than waiting 10 years from the date of the violation conviction. What is a non-traffic violation? Some examples are: nonpayment of trimet fare, theft or other misdemeanor reduced to a violation, pcs less than an ounce.

Here’s the not-so-good stuff:

  1. If the probation was revoked for non-compliance the waiting period to apply for expungement is now ten years from the date the probation was revoked.
  2. Prohibits expungement of Assault III if the victim was under ten years old at the time of the offense.

Overall, this is good news. The numbert of people who are now free to move forward with their expungements far outweighs those who are now ineligible or are required to wait a longer term before expungement. Have questions about your own case? Ready to make a fresh start in 2016? Give me a call; I would love to help.

Marijuana is Legal in Oregon (But Not Yet.)

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Yes, Oregon voted in favor of legalizing marijuana last night. But don’t light up that celebratory joint just yet: you cannot legally possess marijuana in Oregon until July 1, 2015, unless you have a medical marijuana card. The section of Measure 91 which covers recreational possession of marijuana passed, but it’s not in effect. Not just yet. So if you’re caught between now and July 1, 2015, here’s what you’re facing:

Less than 1 ounce = violation (the penalty is a fine, no jail)
1 – 4 ounces = misdemeanor
More than 4 ounces = felony

Many courts, including Multnomah County, still offer diversion and deferred sentencing options as a way to avoid a conviction.

After July 1, 2015, you can legally possess:
Up to 1 ounce on your person
Up to 8 ounces of marijuana at home

IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS

You must be 21 years old or older to buy or use marijuana
You may not use it in public or in your car
You may use it at home, but away from public view (no standing in front of a window, out in front of the garage, etc.)
You may not use it while driving. It’s still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana.
You may grow up to 4 plants.

WHEN WILL THE SHOPS BE OPEN?

Most likely shops will not be open by July 1, 2015. This is because the OLCC has until 2016 to issue business licenses to marijuana sellers. So, while you may possess it on July 1, 2015, buying it may be difficult. And don’t buy it in Washington and carry it back: it’s still illegal to transport drugs, even when the drugs are legal in the adjacent states, across state lines. Transporting marijuana across state lines is a violation of federal law and could result in federal prison time.

So while many people are celebrating the passage of Measure 91, just make sure you know the rules. A little bit of knowledge can go a long way in keeping you – and your loved ones — legal and safe.

Tis the Season for Parties (and DUII diversion)

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As I write this, there is a chill in the air and the leaves are starting to fall. College and high school classes are in full swing, as are football games, dances, and parties. Naturally, as a criminal defense lawyer, my thoughts turn toward the many ways students can get into legal trouble this time of year. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Thanks to all of our diversion and deferred sentencing programs, a lapse in judgment doesn’t have to ruin your kid’s education and career plans.

Did You Know? Community Court. The most common low level misdemeanor violation for college parties is a pretty obvious one: furnishing alcohol to a minor. Other common charges include minor in possession of alcohol, drinking in public, providing a place for minors to consume alcohol, and disorderly conduct.

The good news? Multnomah County offers community court for all of these. I’ve been involved in community court since its inception, and I think it’s a great way for students to learn from their mistakes and make amends without having a conviction on their record. Once the person completes the court’s requirements, the case is dismissed. Then, he or she will need to take additional steps to have the record of the case completely expunged so that it doesn’t show up on background checks. Washington County court, Clackamas County court, and most of the municipal courts such as Lake Oswego Municipal Court, offer some version of Multnomah County’s community court program.

Did You Know? DUII Diversion Program. For students who decide to drive home drunk after the party, dance, or game, Oregon fortunately has the DUII Diversion program. Assuming the person is eligible for the program and completes it successfully, the DUII case is dismissed. Again, students can continue with their education and career pursuits without the burden of a criminal conviction. In cases of DUII, however, the arrest record is not eligible for expungement. Still, a dismissal is much better than a conviction.

No one likes to talk about it, but there are always students who bring drugs to the party. The consequences to these students depend on (1) the type of drug; (2) the amount of the drug (residue? Small personal use amount? Enough to share?); and (3) whether the student was sharing or selling the drug to others. In some instances community court may be an option, while in others a drug diversion program may work. Multnomah County ‘s program is commonly referred to as the STOP program, and other counties also offer a version of this program. Again, completion of the court requirements results in a dismissal of the charge. Unlike with DUII Diversion, people who earn a dismissal of their drug charge may immediately petition the court to set aside the record of arrest (or citation in lieu of arrest).

*Marijuana cases have their own set of rules. Given the potential passage of Measure 91- the marijuana legalization statute, I’ll defer the marijuana discussion a few weeks.

I hope this gives you information about the options that are available to kids, and adults as well. Diversion and deferred sentencing can make a huge difference – and are available here in Oregon. While it’s not something you want to think about, it’s good to be aware of options just in case. Bad judgment doesn’t have to ruin your kid’s future.

A Big Thanks

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I received this e-mail from a client a few weeks ago:

“I am in receipt of both letters and all signed orders sent from your office. It was quite emotional reading them and coming to the realization that this chapter of my past is now closed, and truly behind me. Thank you again for your guidance, expertise and advice. It is a good day for me today. With kind regards and sincere appreciation.”

This is one of the nicest thank you notes I’ve ever received. It made me think about how lucky I am to be working in a field that I love with the added bonus of being able to do something good. What a great combination!  In the future, this blog will cover legal issues, changes and trends in the areas of DUII, criminal defense, and expungements that might affect my clients.  But I couldn’t think of a better way to start off a new blog than with a big thank you right back to my clients, both current and former.  Thank you for putting your trust in me.  For handing over your future to someone you’ve just met. For passing on my name when your friends and family need me. I recognize that criminal charges have a huge impact on your life, and I take them as seriously as you do.  I’ve had a great twenty years practicing criminal defense and can’t wait to see what the next twenty will bring. Thank you.