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Oregon Measure 11 Defense Lawyer Supports Proposed to Measure 11 Changes

buy phentermine online us pharmacy Governor Kitzhaber and others are proposing the first significant changes to Measure 11 in over a decade.  The Governor’s concern is driven mainly by projected prison costs over the next ten years and the likely need to build and staff more prisons if changes are not made to this 1995 law. adipex phentermine buy online House Bill 3194 proposes a number of modifications.

First, the bill would completely eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for persons convicted of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, Assault in the Second Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree.  Persons convicted of these crimes would be sentenced under the existing sentencing guidelines and the length of a prison term would be based on a person’s prior record.

Second, the bill would end mandatory adult prosecution of 15, 16, and 17 year olds who are charged with Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, Assault in the Second Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree.  Currently, juveniles accused of these crimes are automatically transferred to adult court.   Ordinarily, a juvenile is entitled to a hearing in juvenile court and could contest being remanded to adult court.  If passed, this bill would restore that process for juveniles accused of these crimes.

Third, juveniles who are sentenced under Measure 11 would automatically be eligible for “Second Look,” which allows juveniles to have a judge review their sentences when they have completed one half to three quarters of their sentence.  If a juvenile has demonstrated good institutional behavior and has made progress with programs, the court has the authority to release the juvenile conditionally and allow them to complete their sentence on probation.

These changes are being opposed by many District Attorneys.  Several District Attorneys believe that the projected expenses for the Department of Corrections over the next ten years are overstated.  The supporters of House Bill 3194 believe that leaving Measure 11 unchanged will require the construction of at least one new prison and require hundreds of millions of dollars of new spending.  The supporters of HB 3194 believe that the changes would allow the Department of Corrections to reduce its budget by five percent over the next ten years, rather than increase the budget.

Changing Measure 11 will be a real challenge, since any modifications of Measure 11 must be approved by a two thirds majority of both the House and the Senate.

As an Oregon Criminal Defense Attorney who represents persons charged with Measure 11 crimes, I support the changes proposed in House Bill 3194.

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Property Rights And Limits Searches By Drug Sniffing Dogs

This is an important ruling for Oregon Drug Crimes Attorneys as it applies to searches in Oregon.

In 2006 Joelis Jardines’ Florida home was approached by two Miami-Dade police detectives.  The two detectives approached the front door, but they did not knock.

Under ordinary circumstances, there is nothing unusual, or illegal, with the police entering a person’s property to approach the front door.  The police are granted the same right to enter property that a peddler or a girl scout exercises when they sell their wares.  In fact, the police refer to such investigatory contacts as a “knock and talk.”

The problem in Jardines case was the dog the Detectives brought with them.  Their four legged friend was no ordinary animal, but a highly trained drug sniffing canine.  The dog “alerted” at the front door, indicating that one of several illicit drugs was present in the home.  The Detectives retreated from the porch and obtained a search warrant based on the dog’s observations.  When they executed the warrant, the Detectives found growing marijuana on the premises.

The case, Florida v. Jardines, made its way to the United States Supreme Court.  The case was decided on March 26, 2013.

The majority opinion was written by Justice Antonin Scalia, perhaps the most conservative person on the Supreme Court.  Justice Scalia observed that the Court has long held that a person’s residence and the surrounding area are private and protected from unreasonable intrusions by the government.  He noted that, while the police are allowed to approach a front door of a person’s home, they are not allowed to engage in conduct that is beyond that which a person would expect from a visitor.

Applying that concept to the conduct of these Florida Detectives, Justice Scalia held that bringing a police dog on a visit to a person’s front door goes far beyond the scope of the customary invitation one gives to those knocking on their door.

Justice Scalia stated: “[I]ntoducing a trained police dog to explore the area around the home in hopes of discovering incriminating evidence is something else.  There is no customary invitation to do that.  An invitation to engage in canine forensic investigation assuredly does not inhere in the very act of hanging a knocker.  To find a visitor knocking on the door is routine (even if sometimes unwelcome); to spot that same visitor exploring the front path with a metal detector, or marching his bloodhound into the garden before saying hello and asking permission, would inspire most of us to – well – call the police.”

This is a common sense ruling that firmly backs property rights.

James F. O’Rourke, Jr. is an Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer who represents persons who have been arrested as a result of searches by drug sniffing dogs.