Oregon Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive or threatening behavior used by one person in an intimate relationship or one family or household member to control another. Most people think of domestic violence as acts of physical violence, but it can also involve emotional abuse, economic control or threats of physical violence, emotional abuse or economic control. Domestic violence offenses are taken very seriously by Oregon law enforcement officials and prosecutors and offenders are punished harshly. Legitimate acts of domestic violence happen every day and abuse victims deserve the rights and protections afforded to them under the law. However, not all domestic violence claims are based on fact. False accusations of abuse occur all too often in Oregon, and it is important for those who have been falsely accused to understand that they have rights, too. If you have been accused of committing an act of domestic violence in Oregon, do not wait to get legal help. Consult an experienced Oregon domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the best strategy for protecting your rights and avoiding criminal charges.
Oregon Domestic Violence Laws
The Oregon Revised Statutes contains strict laws that protect intimate partners and other family and household members from abuse. These laws also impose severe penalties upon domestic violence offenders. Under ORS § 135.230, domestic violence in Oregon is defined as abuse occurring between family or household members, which includes current or former spouses, adults who are related by blood or marriage, people cohabitating with one another, people who have cohabitated with one another in the past, people who have been involved in a sexually intimate relationship, and unmarried parents of a minor child. The term “abuse” refers to any of the following criminal acts:
- Attempting to cause or knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to a family or household member,
- Knowingly or recklessly placing a family or household member in fear of imminent bodily injury, or
- Causing a family or household member to engage in unwanted sexual activity by force or threat of force.
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Violence Offenses
Unlike other states, Oregon does not have specific criminal statutes that deal exclusively with acts of domestic violence. Instead, the term “domestic violence” is used to describe any number of crimes perpetrated by one family or household member against another. This can include anything from assault, harassment and menacing offenses to burglary and even murder. Any domestic violence-related offense can result in serious consequences under Oregon criminal law, possibly including jail or prison time. If you are arrested for domestic violence in Oregon, you will likely face one or more of the following criminal charges:
- Assault in the fourth degree (ORS § 163.160) – Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 364 days.
- Assault in the third degree (ORS § 163.165) – Class C felony punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.
- Assault in the second degree (ORS § 163.175) – Class B felony punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years
- Assault in the first degree (ORS § 163.185) – Class A felony punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
- Strangulation (ORS § 163.187) – Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 364 days.
- Menacing (ORS § 163.190) – Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 364 days.
- Rape in the third degree (ORS § 163.355) – Class C felony punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.
- Rape in the second degree (ORS § 163.365) – Class B felony punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years
- Rape in the first degree (ORS § 163.375) – punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.
- Sexual misconduct (ORS § 163.445) – Class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 days.
- Stalking (ORS § 163.732) – Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 364 days.
Oregon’s Mandatory Arrest Law
Perhaps the best indicator of the strong stance Oregon has taken against domestic violence crimes is the state’s domestic violence mandatory arrest law. This law gives the police the authority to make an arrest without a warrant any time they respond to a domestic violence call in Oregon and have probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence occurred, whether the alleged victim has suffered any apparent injuries or not. This is true even in cases where the alleged victim does not want to press charges. All it takes is an accusation of domestic abuse, whether the accusation is valid or not, for an arrest to be made.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
In addition to criminal charges, domestic violence allegations can also result in a restraining order being served to prevent continued abuse and eliminate any contact between the accused and the alleged victim (the petitioner). In Oregon, a civil domestic violence restraining order is known as a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order, or a “FAPA” order. Unfortunately, if the court grants a FAPA order against you and you and the alleged victim live together, you will most likely be required to leave your home. A restraining order may also: prohibit you from entering the petitioner’s school or workplace, grant the petitioner temporary custody of your children and order you to provide the petitioner with emergency financial assistance.
A Skilled Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help
In an effort to protect victims of domestic violence, the state of Oregon tends to err on the side of caution when it comes to handling domestic abuse allegations, and prosecutors rarely dismiss domestic violence cases, even if the alleged victim refuses to press charges. The best way to protect your rights and your freedom when facing criminal charges for domestic violence in Oregon is to enlist the help of an Oregon criminal defense attorney with a proven record of success defending clients against domestic violence charges. With a qualified criminal defense lawyer representing your case, you can ensure that you mount the strongest possible defense against the charges and maximize your chances of success. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may even be able to avoid criminal prosecution altogether.