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Oregon's Ballot Measure 11 crimes and mandatory prison sentences

Measure 11 was passed by Oregon voters in 1994 by roughly a 2-to-1 margin and is best known for its provisions mandating minimum terms of incarceration for particularly heinous crimes.
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    January 23, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Oregon's Ballot Measure 11 crimes and mandatory prison sentences

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In January 2014, a 22-year-old Oregon man pleaded not guilty after a Lane County, Ore., grand jury indicted him for several serious crimes, reports The Register-Guard. From Veneta, a town outside of Eugene, the defendant allegedly was involved in a "domestic dispute involving a firearm" for which he was charged with eight criminal offenses:
-Attempted murder
-Second-degree assault
-Unlawful use of a weapon
-Fourth-degree assault (two counts)

Two of the defendant's charges are for so-called "Measure 11" offenses: second-degree assault and attempted murder. Measure 11 convictions are considered very serious crimes that require severe, mandatory prison terms under Oregon law.

Measure 11

Ballot Measure 11 was passed by Oregon voters in 1994 by roughly a 2-to-1 margin and is best known for its provisions mandating minimum terms of incarceration without the possibility of probation, parole or sentence reduction for crimes deemed particularly heinous. Included crimes are sexual or violent in nature such as certain types of: murder, manslaughter, assault, kidnapping, rape and other sex crimes, robbery, arson, compelling prostitution and aggravated vehicular homicide.

The Measure 11 statute lays out the specific minimum sentences, the longest of which is at least 25 years for the most serious crimes on the list. While the public sentiment in enacting Measure 11 was a desire to get tough on crime, some in the criminal defense bar feel that the sentences are extreme and dire, especially if someone is wrongly convicted, and that this law does not allow judges to use discretion in sentencing if circumstances would have otherwise supported shorter prison terms.

Juveniles included

Measure 11 is also tough on juveniles, normally requiring that a defendant who is at least 15 years old will be tried as an adult for Measure 11 crimes. Critics question whether this is ethical, asking if the teenage brain at that phase of development can make the kinds of decisions that justify such long prison sentences for youthful offenders.

Vigorous criminal defense

An Oregon defendant charged with Measure 11 crimes should seek out legal counsel with specific experience handling Measure 11 cases. For example, a criminal defense attorney who has experience in Oregon courts negotiating with prosecution about Measure 11 criminal charges may be aware of creative ways to reach plea agreements that reduce Measure 11 charges to lesser charges that may not have mandatory terms of imprisonment.

If a defendant is tried in Oregon court for a Measure 11 offense, he or she should have a seasoned Oregon Measure 11 lawyer who will investigate the circumstances of the incident and arrest to be sure the defendant's rights were not violated and to gather important evidence. The stakes are too high to go it alone.

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