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Measure 11 and Mandatory Minimums in Oregon

Measure 11 was passed in 1994 as a citizen's referendum proposed by Crime Victims United to get tough on crime. It set mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes in the State of Oregon including Assault in the First or Second Degree, Manslaughter in the First or Second Degree, Murder, Rape in the First Degree, Sexual Abuse in the First or Second Agree, Sodomy in the First or Second Degree, Arson in the First Degree, Using a Child in an Unlawful Sexual Display, Kidnapping in the First or Second Degree, Compelling Prostitution, Unlawful Sexual Penetration in the First or Second Degree and Robbery in the First or Second Degree. Measure 11 is codified into law by ORS 137.700 and proscribes sentences in range from 70-300 months.

Recently, the Supreme Court added fuel to the fire in criticizing mandatory minimum sentencing schemes by saying that many of those schemes were up to a jury (not Measure 11 - yet). By subjecting those factors to a jury, the Supreme Court increased the likelihood that there might be nullification of a mandatory sentencing factor. Nullification is when a jury or judge does not feel the sentence or punishment fits the crime, so they find someone either not guilty or guilty of a lesser charge even if they might technically be guilty of the principal offense. Judges often feel they are absolutely responsible to the law on those matters whereas juries often just do what feels right.

This month's video tip is a discussion of mandatory minimum sentencing under Ballot Measure 11 in Oregon. I discuss alternative incarceration programs, good time and earned time, the sentencing scheme and what one should do when charged. I also discuss the systemic issues surrounding mandatory minimums and state where I believe Measure 11 is headed.

When someone has been investigated for or accused of a Measure 11 crime, they are likely to face a serious prosecution and the possibility of years spent in prison with no good time or programs. The difference between outcomes for those with a great attorney and those without are huge. I have achieved dismissals, acquittals and suppression at the Measure 11 level. I believe deeply that the tougher the road, the harder you have to work to get down it.