Criminal DefenseIn our system of justice you are presumed innocent. Know your rights. Do not answer questions without your lawyer present.
Misdemeanor offenses are charges that can be punishable with up to a year in jail and a $6,250 fine (maximums for “A” Misdemeanor). The maximum punishment for a “B” misdemeanor is 6 months jail and a $2,500 fine, and for a “C” misdemeanor is 30 days jail and a fine of $1,250. In order be found guilty, a jury of six members of our community must unanimously find that the government has met its burden and has proven their allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.
Misdemeanor offenses can take a variety of forms, including alcohol offenses, crimes against property, motor-vehicle crimes, person crimes and much more. A misdemeanor conviction can have serious ramifications. For one, it results in a criminal conviction that may impact employment or educational opportunities. Second, misdemeanor convictions can potentially enhance sentencing at the felony level, either through the felony sentencing guidelines or as a requisite offense for an enhancement (see ORS 137.717). Third, courts can sentence a misdemeanor with up to five years of probation, leaving a person under the court’s eye for a long time. Fourth, some misdemeanors may result in suspension of driving privileges. Finally, a misdemeanor can create a costly money obligation owing to the court.
These punishments are inconvenient and costly and should be taken seriously. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor talk to an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and that the government is held accountable for its actions.
Felony offenses take a variety of forms – and are the most serious offense classification under Oregon law.
In 1989 the State of Oregon enacted a “determinate system” of sentencing known as the sentencing guidelines. This system was implemented to ensure better consistency and uniformity at sentencing throughout the state. In a nutshell, the guidelines determine an accused individual’s “presumptive sentence” based on the seriousness of the crime and the accused individual’s criminal history. For example, if a defendant is accused of a serious crime and has a long criminal history the guidelines will delineate a longer presumptive sentence than an individual accused of a less-serious felony with no criminal history.
Aside from prison and jail exposure, felony offenses carry with them other significant collateral consequences. For one, a felony conviction will impact an individual’s right to own or possess firearms. Secondly, a felony conviction can impact an individual’s right to vote. While this varies state-to-state, in Oregon an individual is prevented from voting if he or she is incarcerated on a felony matter.
Measure 11 Offenses
In 1994 Oregon voters passed Measure 11 which established a mandatory minimum sentencing structure with respect to very serious crimes, namely:
Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, Arson 1, Assault 1, Assault 2, Attempted Aggravated Murder, Compelling Prostitution, Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Murder, Attempted Murder, Conspiracy Murder, Kidnapping 1, Kidnapping 2, Manslaughter 1, Manslaughter 2, Murder, Rape 1, Rape 2, Robbery 1, Robbery 2, Sexual Abuse 1, Unlawful Sexual Penetration 1, Unlawful Sexual Penetration 2, Sodomy 1, Sodomy 2, and Use of Child in Display of Sexually Explicit Conduct.
A Measure 11 charge imposes a mandatory minimum sentencing scheme that takes discretion at sentencing away from the judge and requires the imposition of a mandatory minimum fixed term of prison. This mandatory minimum prison term must be served day-for-day and is not eligible for any reductions. Given these harsh consequences, Measure 11 cases must be handled with the utmost seriousness and often must resolve with trial. As such, these cases require a tremendous amount of work and diligence.
Both Mr. Kolego and Mr. Kraushaar are licensed in the United States District Court for Oregon and maintain a regular federal practice. Recently our federal practice has focused on drug and firearm cases, however, our office has also recently handled white-collar crime and an attempted murder case.
Generally, federal cases involve serious allegations that result from large investigations. As a result, federal cases have high stakes and many cases contain mandatory minimum sentencing structures. Further, discovery can easily consist of hundreds of thousands of pages of material creating a large work load.
As the federal government transitions after the 2016 presidential election, we anticipate more aggressive federal prosecution with higher stakes. For example, the Obama administration offered sentencing considerations and reductions that reflected a more sophisticated approach to drug offenses and recognized the underlining mental health and additional issues that underline the problem.
As criminal defense attorneys we see every day how our country’s drug laws simply do not work to achieve their purpose. The war on drugs and prohibition are examples of some of the most expensive and failed policies in US history. Simply put, the criminal justice system is not designed to effectively remedy drug addiction and often exacerbates the problems associated with addiction. The federal criminal system is slowly recognizing its own inefficiencies and has seen recent reforms reducing mandatory minimum sentences associated with drug crimes. However, recent inroads may be undone when the new presidential administration assumes power.
If you find yourself charged with a drug crime, talk to an attorney. We will carefully review and analyze your case to ensure your constitutional rights have not been compromised by unlawful governmental action.
Property crime can take many forms. From shop lifting to damaging someone’s property to identity theft to graffiti. These allegations can have a significant impact on someone’s life as these convictions can scare future employers and can provide a sentencing enhancement factor for future convictions.
Recent legislation has given prosecutors more ability to send property crime offenders to prison and prior property crime convictions can be used to enhance a presumptive sentence.
Generally, these allegations involve individuals who are grappling with drug addiction and have fallen to the social wayside. With this backdrop, it is not surprising that a “lock ‘em up” approach is not particularly effective in reducing property crime because this approach ignores the root cause of the issue – addiction.
As the National Football League or celebrity gossip page consistently remind us, domestic violence is an issue that is pervasive in our culture. Domestic violence charges are handled very seriously by District Attorneys’ offices, and contrary to popular belief, once an arrest or complaint has been made the victim does not get to decide whether or not the charges will be “dropped.” As such, District Attorney’s offices are accustomed to prosecuting these cases – even without the cooperation of the victim.
These allegations often are accompanied with restrictive release agreements and can ignite other legal proceedings including restraining orders or family law cases. Furthermore, these cases can have an impact on a person’s ability to lawfully possess firearms and carry significant collateral consequences. If you’ve been charged with an offense that allegedly constitutes domestic violence, contact an attorney immediately.
Sex offenses by their nature are extremely serious and are treated as such by the government. These allegations can carry significant consequences, including lengthy prison sentences, registration requirements and social stigma. Even in cases that do not result in prison sentences, the registration requirements and stigma can follow an individual for a lifetime and have dramatic effects on an individual’s ability to find work and housing. We have many years of experience handling these cases and understand the delicate and emotional themes that can underline these accusations.
Mr. Kolego has handled many murder cases, of different varieties; cases that represent some of the most serious, gruesome and publicized accusations that exist in the criminal justice system. Obviously, these cases require detailed and meticulous investigation, research and advanced trial skills.
Traffic violations are a part of everyday life. For example, a trip up or down I-5 frequently reveals flashing red and blue lights—from state troopers and county sheriffs to local police departments. Law enforcement understands that minor traffic violations can result in big bucks for their department and potentially uncover more serious crimes. Courts have even relaxed constitutional standards during a traffic stop; as such a restriction on an individual’s liberty of movement does not implicate the traditional constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
A traffic violation can lead to costly fines and even a driver’s license suspension but is not punishable with jail. If you are charged with a traffic violation you have a right to a bench trial in which the officer must prove your guilt by a “preponderance of the evidence”, a lower and easier burden of proof than proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”