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Personal Service With Integrity
Drug Crimes

Oregon Drug Attorney, Portland

Mr. O’Rourke is an experienced drug charge criminal defense lawyer and attorney in Portland, Gresham, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Oregon City and Saint Helens Courts and Courts throughout the State of Oregon. Mr. O’Rourke began as a Portland Criminal Lawyer in 1978. 

Criminal defense attorney O’Rourke will defend you against criminal prosecution for drug crime charges in the Portland metroplex area. In Multnomah County, felony and misdemeanor drug crime charges are prosecuted in Portland and misdemeanor drug crimes are prosecuted in Gresham and Portland. In Washington County, Oregon, felony and misdemeanor drug charges are heard in Hillsboro, Oregon In Clackamas County, felony and misdemeanor drug charge prosecutions are heard in Oregon City. In Columbia County felony and misdemeanor drug crime charges are prosecuted in St. Helens, Oregon.

Mr. O’Rourke defends persons charged with Federal Criminal Drug Charges in the United States District Court for Oregon in Portland, Oregon.

Mr. O’Rourke and His Staff Work as a Team For You

We use the same three methods to fight the prosecution and win in drug charge cases that we use in other criminal cases: Attack including investigation, legal motions and trial, Negotiation before and after drug charges are filed and Mitigation-Sentencing plans to achieve results which work for our clients.

We evaluate each case for its own defense potential. We set realistic goals with our clients and make trial, negotiation and mitigation – sentencing plans to achieve those goals.

First we evaluate the case for trial. We consider defenses and whether we can exclude crucial evidence from the prosecution’s case through motions to suppress and other methods.

We determine the client’s sentencing exposure under the Oregon Felony Sentencing Guidelines and Measure 57 and make sentencing and mitigation plans to reduce the consequences of a conviction.

We concentrate our efforts in the areas which will be most effective in achieving the goals we set with our clients. We practice Smart Defense which is focusing our efforts on using what works.


In drug cases, the primary ATTACK is aimed at keeping the drug evidence out of court. Without the drug evidence the State can not prove its case. We use Motions to Suppress and evidentiary objections to exclude evidence of drug crimes from the trial. We investigate the government’s sources of information,
including informants and develop evidence not contained in the police reports to undermine the government’s case. We use the best trial lawyer for each particular case.

The object of a drug prosecution is to link you to drugs and evidence of drug manufacturing or distribution including money and weapons.

We use Motions to Suppress and Motions to Controvert to exclude from trial evidence which the prosecution needs to prove a link between you and the contraband. Most motions attack the legality of statements, confessions and searches with and without a search warrant. We also use evidentiary motions and objections to exclude connecting evidence which the prosecution intends to use in its effort to connect you to criminal activity or which can be used to increase the potential sentence.

Most cases are decided based upon whether or not the prosecution can prove the link between the defendant and the contraband. There are cases where there is a link but it is not enough to support a conviction. For example in State v. Embry, (I think) presence and knowledge cases Each drug charge case has to be evaluated based upon its own particular facts. Each case has its own particular defense potential.


We NEGOTIATE with the prosecution before and after drug charges are filed. There are a number of factors and possibilities to be considered in resolving a drug case. We know what to seek through negotiation to obtain results which work for our clients.

The vast majority of criminal drug charge prosecutions are resolved by negotiations. “Plea deals” cover a wide range of subjects. First, to what charge will the defendant plead? What other state or federal drug or related charges will be dismissed or will or will not be brought? Can we agree to a diversion type resolution? What assets will be forfeited or not? Next, can we agree to a sentence? Sentencing issues include whether or not and how much jail, prison and/or fines, and where and how jail or prison sentences will be served. There are ways of serving jail sentences without going to jail. We negotiate for rehabilitative – diversion type sentences rather than punitive – incarceration sentences.

We develop negotiation and mitigation-sentencing hearing strategies for each client. We achieve excellent results for our clients through negotiation.

Mitigation – Sentencing

Our MITIGATION – SENTENCING plans are very successful in drug cases. No one can change the facts which led to the criminal charges. We can create new facts and evidence during the pendency of the case for the Court to consider at sentencing.

We use a technique we call Turning Negatives Into Positives to obtain rehabilitative rather than punitive sentences for many of our clients. This technique works well within the framework of the Felony Sentencing Guidelines and in many cases which are covered by Measure 57.

Turning Negatives Into Positives

Most persons charged with drug crimes are addicted, dependent upon or abusing drugs. They would not commit crimes it they were not using drugs. We use our clients’ successful drug treatment efforts to get excellent results in Court, which is the essence of Turning Negatives Into Positives approach.

Most of our drug abuse/dependence/addiction recovery clients who carefully follow our instructions, receive extremely fair and lenient sentences from the Courts. Click here for more information about Turning Negatives Into Positives.

We Let Our Results Speak For Us

Our reputation and success are based upon our results and upon the way we treat our clients.

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    "Mr. O’Rourke was by far the best attorney I have ever had."

    My favorite thing about Mr. O’Rourke was that he wasn’t going to back down to anyone, and he never wavered in his mission to do what was best for me.

    - Former Client
    *To read the full review, please visit our reviews page
    "James O’Rourke literally saved our son’s life—and for that we owe him a debt of gratitude that we can never adequately repay."
    Jim really cares about our son’s welfare and well being. He has given hope and encouragement to my husband and myself when we were overwhelmed by everything.
    - A Mother and Father
    *To read the full review, please visit our reviews page
    "In Jim, we found not only an excellent attorney – but a leader, a coach, a resource, a navigator and an advocate – not only for our son, but for us as well."
    It is so uplifting to work with an attorney who really cares about his client’s well-being the way Jim does. Once we felt so helpless, now we have hope because we have Jim O’Rourke on our side.
    - S & T
    *To read the full review, please visit our reviews page
    "I truly believe that honesty and compassion are what set him apart and make him the best."
    Mr. O’Rourke does not “sugar coat” anything, yet still shows a great amount of compassion and empathy. I truly believe that honesty and compassion are what set him apart and make him the best.
    - Jennifer A.
    *To read the full review, please visit our reviews page

Sentences for Drug Crime Convictions:

A person convicted of a Class A misdemeanor drug crime is placed on probation and is subject to a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $6,250 and suspension of his or her driving privileges for up to 180 days. The conditions of probation are usually the same as those for felony convictions.

A person convicted of a felony drug crime is either sent to prison or placed on probation, which may include a period of county jail time.


Probationary sentences almost always involve Supervised Probation.

The convicted person is ordered to comply with general and/or special conditions of probation. Each county has packages of general and special conditions of probation for persons convicted of drug crimes.

We advise that out clients carefully review all of the general conditions of probation and the package of probation conditions for the county in which they may be convicted of a drug crime so that we may ask the court to delete or change conditions which will cause undue hardship to the client.

All counties in Oregon have packages of general and special conditions of probation for persons convicted of drug crimes.


Sentences for Felony Drug Convictions are determined by application of the Oregon Felony Sentencing Guidelines and repeat offender laws. 

The felony sentencing guidelines determine a presumptive sentence based upon the nature and seriousness of the present crime and the person’s criminal record. 

In drug cases, the seriousness of the present crime is determined largely by, the nature of the charge, the type and weight or number of doses of the drug, whether or not the crime was “for consideration” (i.e. involved the actual or attempted sale of drugs for money) and whether the crime involved minors or was committed within 1,000 feet of a school. Delivery and Manufacture charges generally receive greater sentences than possession or other drug crime charges. 

Other factors which can determine the seriousness of the drug crime are set out in ORS 475.996 including provisions for increases in crime seriousness for cases where the elements of Commercial Drug Offense and/or Substantial Quantity can be proven by the State.

For example, The state can increase the seriousness of a Manufacture or Delivery Of A Controlled Substance charge to the highest level provided for drug offenses, if the prosecution alleges (states in the accusatory instrument – indictment) and proves that three or more of the following commercial drug offense factors were connected with the charged crime: 

That you were in possession of (A) $300 cash (B) packaging materials (C) drug records or customer lists (D) stolen property (E) manufacturing paraphernalia (F) 3 grams of heroin, 8 grams of cocaine, methamphetamine or hash, 110 grams of marijuana, 20 units of LSD or 10 grams of psilocybin/psilocin (G)or that you possessed or used or were an ex-con in possession of a weapon (H) modified a structure to facilitate a controlled substance offense (built a grow room) (I) used fortifications or dangerous security with the potential of injuring persons (J) use of public lands for Unlawful Manufacture Of A Controlled Substance. (K) delivery for consideration. ORS 475.996 (1) (b)

The sentence is also enhanced if the drug crime involves a Substantial quantity of certain controlled substances.

In addition, delivery of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine or MDMA has enhanced consequences if the delivery is for consideration.

The person’s criminal record is the other main factor used to determine a presumed sentence. The greater the criminal record the greater the sentence. Repeat meth offender. ORS 137.721 reduces the trial court’s discretion to reduce sentences for some repeat meth offenders and requires 19 month mandatory prison sentences for other repeat meth offenders.

The rules for sentencing drug charge convictions are complex. Each case has its own facts and circumstances and its own defense potential. We determine and in most cases achieve that highest defense potential.

Oregon Penalties for “Super Quantities”

Under ORS 475.925 (Measure 57) there are enhanced penalties for manufacture of delivery of “super quantities” of certain controlled substances.  This sentencing law targets heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA for enhanced penalties if a person manufactures or delivers “super quantities” of these drugs.  Marijuana is excluded from these enhanced penalties.  Amounts in excess of 50 or 100 grams of heroin or MDMA draw enhanced penalties.  For cocaine and methamphetamine the thresholds are 100 and 500 grams.  A person who manufactures or delivers amounts in excess of these thresholds is subject to a prison term that is determined by elevated crime seriousness standards.  Also, a Court is not allowed to impose a lesser sentence than is dictated by the sentencing guidelines and cannot impose a sentence of probation.

Enhanced Penalties for Repeat Offenders

Under ORS 475.930 (Measure 57) there are enhanced penalties for persons who have a previous conviction for manufacture or delivery of heroin, MDMA, cocaine, methamphetamine, manufacture or delivery within 1000 feet of a school, delivery of a controlled substance to a minor or possession of methamphetamine precursor substances.  Persons with previous convictions of these crimes who are charged with a new manufacture or delivery of these substances are not allowed a probationary sentence and must serve a prison term under the sentencing guidelines.

The Department of Human Services, the Juvenile Court and Drug Charges

Simply having a child under 18 present where any drug crime is being committed constitutes misdemeanor Endangering The Welfare Of A Minor. Allowing a child under 16 to remain on premises, or in a vehicle, where drugs are being manufactured or sold can be charged as felony Child Neglect In The First Degree in Oregon As a result, when a parent is arrested for a felony manufacture or delivery crime, often the parent is also charged with felony child neglect and the children are taken into protective custody.

When the police or the Department of Human Services (DHS) take a child into protective custody they are required to immediately notify the Juvenile Court and a shelter hearing must be scheduled with 24 hours (excluding weekends and holidays). At that hearing, the Juvenile Court determines whether or not “the child’s condition or surroundings reasonably appear to be such as to jeopardize the child’s welfare.”

If the Court determines that the child’s welfare is jeopardized, the child is deemed to be “within the jurisdiction” of the Juvenile Court and the Court effectively takes custody of the child. The Juvenile Court then has a variety of options available. The Court first determines whether or not DHS can provide services to the parent that will abate the danger and allow the child to return home. The Juvenile Court will try to return the child to the family home if at all possible. The Court can appoint a guardian for the child and make a placement outside of the family home. Preference is given for placement with relatives. In extreme cases, the Court can take action to terminate a parents rights and have the child permanently placed out of the home and/or adopted over the parent’s objection.

DHS is required to provide services to reunite the family if the Court takes jurisdiction over the child. Commonly, DHS will offer drug treatment services and require a parent to submit to U/A’s as a condition of returning the child to the family home. Often, parents are subject to supervised visits until they can begin the program required by DHS.

The police will often threaten to bring children into this Juvenile Court process as a means of coercing confessions and/or providing information about other people involved in drug activity.

We at James F. O’Rourke, Jr and Associates are successful at defending person with drug charges and reuniting families, even in cases where there are convictions for drug crimes.

Professional Licenses

Criminal charges and convictions can affect professional licenses. Drug charges and convictions can lead to the suspension and or revocation of licenses granted by professional boards and the State Of Oregon.

We have extensive experience representing persons licensed to practice law, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and other professions. Drug addiction is common in all professions and drug charges are not necessarily the end of a
career. None of our professional clients, who have followed our advice, have permanently lost their licenses to practice, law, dentistry, medicine. Pharmacy or nursing. Many have not lost their licenses at all.

We know what the Professional Boards want from the client and how to help the client fulfill those requirements. 

The earlier we get involved the more useful we can be in protecting a professional license.

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Drug Crimes Are Serious Criminal Offenses With Serious Potential

Get advice from an experienced lawyer before you make any decisions or say anything to anyone. Do not try to talk your way out of anything. You can only talk your way into trouble. Do not make any deals with the police. Only the District Attorney has the authority to make deals which should be in writing.

While our principle offices are In Portland, Gresham and Oregon City we see clients by appointment in offices in Beaverton, Hillsboro and Lake Oswego. Besides being a Portland criminal lawyer, Mr. O’Rourke frequently practices in Courts throughout the State of Oregon and southwest Washington. He is
licensed in Washington and Oregon. 

To talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer, call (503) 506-2836 or fill out an online contact form. We take emergency calls 24 hours a day. 

  • Compassionate & Effective Representation
    We provide effective and compassionate defense, ensuring clients feel supported while vigorously protecting their rights.
  • Over 40 Years of Experience
    With four decades in the legal field, Attorney O'Rourke brings a deep understanding of the system, assuring clients of a seasoned advocate by their side.
  • Complimentary, Confidential Consultations
    We offer free consultations, allowing you to discuss your case without any financial commitment.
  • We Work as a Team for You
    We use three methods to fight the prosecution and win — attack, negotiation, and mitigation — focusing our time and resources where they are most productive in achieving our goals.
  • Experienced & Personalized Legal Care

    Benefit from personalized legal strategies tailored to your unique needs.

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