The court web pages contain information concerning only criminal charges that have been filed by the prosecutor's office. They do not contain matters which may be under investigation by a law enforcement agency. This page provides some basic general information including definitions of various classes of offenses with which a person may be charged.
It is the job of police agencies to investigate possible criminal acts. Those agencies then supply investigative information to the District Attorney's office. Based on the information, the District Attorney (DA) will make a decision whether or not there is sufficient information to charge a particular person(s) in court. The District Attorney prepares the charges and files them for formal processing with the court. If the charges include a felony offense, the DA may file them on a document called an `Information.' When charges are filed, a person must appear in court to answer to them. This first appearance is generally referred to as `arraignment.' A person will be given a number of options at arraignment. Depending on the stage of the process, the person may be expected to enter a plea ("not guilty," "guilty,") or may be offered some other way to settle the case with the consent of the District Attorney. This could include a form of diversion program. If the charges include a felony, the District Attorney is likely to present the case to the Grand Jury for consideration of an `Indictment' within seven days of arraignment on the Information.
Felonies are criminal offenses for which the maximum penalty carries the potential of a fine and/or incarceration. Felonies fall into six classes and each classification carries a different maximum potential penalty.
In Oregon, a person has a right to have felonies reviewed by a Grand Jury and to be charged on a Grand Jury Indictment unless the offender voluntarily waives this right in writing and agrees to be charged by the District Attorney on a Felony Information filed with the court.
Sentencing and Diversion Options
Felonies carry the following maximum penalties:
Aggravated Murder: Death or Life in Prison
Murder or Treason: Life in Prison
`A' Felony : $375,000 and/or 20 years in prison
`B' Felony: $250,000 and/or 10 years in prison
`C' Felony: $125,000 and/or 5 years in prison
`Unclassified': Penalties as specified in the particular statute
Measure 11 Offenses - The people of Oregon have enacted minimum mandatory prison sentences of varying lengths for offenders convicted of certain `person' crimes (e.g., felony assaults, sex offenses, kidnapping, robbery, etc.). Judges do not have discretion to change these sentences; they are mandatory upon conviction. This law applies to persons 15 years of age and older .
Drug Diversion - The law allows persons charged with certain felony drug offenses to have the option of a drug diversion. This requires the timely filing of a Petition for Diversion with the Court and, generally, the payment of some diversion fees. It also requires treatment or education and compliance with certain other conditions for successful completion of the diversion . If a person successfully completes a Diversion, the charges are dismissed and the person is not sentenced.
Drug Court - Persons charged with felony Unlawful Possession of Drugs may be eligible for a diversion disposition called `Drug Court.' If so, the person will be told at arraignment. Sometimes, this diversion option is offered later, as part of a negotiation between the DA and the defendant's attorney. This program requires the defendant to file a formal Petition with the Court in which the District Attorney agrees to dismiss the charges if the person successfully completes the Drug Court program. This program can be completed in one year and requires the payment of a fine and completion of all phases of drug treatment as determined necessary after an evaluation. Please see the Drug Court page for further details.