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FAQ: Oregon Criminal Law

Do I really need a lawyer if I am charged with a crime?

The answer to this question, like so many legal questions, is: it depends.  In some cases, when you are accused of a traffic violation or minor misdemeanor, it is possible that the eventual result will be similar whether or not you retain a lawyer.  As charges become more serious, cases more complicated, and consequences more severe, the need for an able criminal defense attorney becomes both more important and more apparent.

A lawyer will often be able to see your situation in a light that is not apparent to you and offer solutions that may not have occurred to you.  By opting to save money by foregoing a lawyer, it is possible to wind up paying more in other ways, by missing those solutions.

Ross Denison Law will be candid and honest with you about whether your situation calls for a lawyer.  Ross will be forthright about what he can likely help you with and what desired outcomes are less likely.

Do I need to hire a lawyer by the time of my first court appearance?

No.  If you appear at your arraignment and tell the judge you would like to hire a lawyer, they will likely either set another date to give you time to do so, or appoint a public defender (if the charges require it and you are financially eligible).  In either case, if you wish to retain an attorney after your first appearance, you should do so immediately thereafter.

What sort of fees does Ross Denison Law charge?

Our fees are calculated according to a number of factors, most prominently the severity of the charges a prospective client is facing.

However, Ross Denison Law holds access to justice as a fundamental value and basic right, and is willing to negotiate reduced fees and payment schedules based upon financial need.

Does Ross Denison Law offer free consultations?

Yes.  Please feel free to call Ross Denison law for a free phone consultation with an attorney.  We will discuss your situation generally, and what Ross may be able to do to help.  After that, you can make the decision whether to hire Ross to handle your case or legal matter.  In either case, everything you discuss during your consultation will be protected by attorney/client privilege to the same extent as it would be if a formal attorney/client relationship existed.

What sort of consequences am I looking at if I am convicted of a crime in Oregon?

The typical sanctions for the varying levels of Oregon criminal convictions vary widely enough that it is irresponsible to speculate without specific information.  However, the following are the maximum penalties available to a court upon conviction:

  • C Misdemeanor: 30 days jail, and $1,250 fine
  • B Misdemeanor: 6 months jail, and $2,500 fine
  • A Misdemeanor: 364 days jail, and $6,250 fine
  • C Felony: 5 years, and $125,000 fine
  • B Felony: 10 years, and $250,000 fine
  • A Felony: 20 years, and $375,000 fine

Should I talk with the police?

In almost every case, no: you should not talk to police without legal counsel.  Often, people erroneously believe that if they just explain themselves, everything will be ok.  Oregon jails and prisons are full of people who made this mistake.  Put plainly, if you find yourself being interrogated by the police, it is nearly impossible to talk your way out of trouble, and beguilingly easy to talk your way into much deeper trouble than had you declined to speak with them.

Tell the police before you can speak with them, you would like to speak with a lawyer.  Be certain to state this explicitly.  Don’t ask if you should speak to a lawyer or suggest you may want to speak with a lawyer.  Instead, politely insist on speaking to a lawyer, and decline to further communicate until that request is honored.

What can I do to improve my situation after I’ve been charged with a crime?

The first and most important thing you can do if you are charged with a crime is contact an attorney.  Whether it be Ross Denison Law or one of Portland’s other fine criminal lawyers, you need somebody to start protecting your interests immediately.

Once you have contacted and retained an attorney, follow their advice.  That’s what you pay them for.  More generally, take measures to demonstrate that you are a responsible and productive member of society.  While this may or may not affirmatively help your legal situation, it certainly will not hurt.

Can my arrest and conviction be expunged or removed from my record?

In Oregon, many convictions can be expunged after a statutorily imposed period of time.  Others unfortunately cannot.  Removing an arrest or conviction from your record means, legally speaking, it is as if it never happened.  Thus, when you are applying for a job or an apartment, you can answer “no” to questions about prior convictions.  For many, it is also a final symbolic step, leaving their past mistakes altogether behind them.

The foregoing is only a small list of some of the more frequently asked questions Ross Denison Law hears.  Of course, every case raises its own unique questions, and every client has their own unique needs.  Contact Ross Denison Law today, and we can address your specific concerns.

Ross Denison

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At the heart of Ross’ commitment to defending individuals accused of crimes is an understanding that state actors and institutions — from police to prosecutors to courts, jails and prisons — too often tread upon the rights to privacy and fairness that we enjoy as Americans and Oregonians.

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