Oregon Domestic Violence Laws

The basics of Oregon's laws regarding crimes against family or household members.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated 5/20/2024

In Oregon, acts of domestic violence can result in criminal penalties, protective orders, mandatory arrests, and firearm restrictions. This article discusses Oregon's criminal penalties and policies that aim to prevent and punish domestic violence crimes and protect victims.

What Is Domestic Violence in Oregon?

Oregon law defines domestic violence as acts of physical assault, attempted assault, threatened assault, or sexual abuse committed against a family or household member.

Family and household members include:

  • current and former spouses
  • adults related by blood or marriage
  • persons who are or were living together
  • persons who've been in a sexually intimate relationship, and
  • persons who share a child together.

Victims of domestic violence can ask a court for a protective order under the Family Abuse Protection Act (FAPA)—also called a family abuse restraining order. This order prohibits the abuser from harming or contacting the victim and may also direct the abuser to move out of a shared residence and surrender firearms.

(Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 107.705, 135.230 (2024).)

Is There a Crime of Domestic Violence in Oregon?

Oregon doesn't have a specific domestic violence crime. But, certain crimes carry stiffer penalties if committed:

  • against a family or household member
  • in the presence of a child, or
  • against the same victim multiple times.

Some examples include assault, strangulation, and endangerment (discussed in more detail below).

Domestic violence determination. Court records will generally indicate whether an arrest, charge, or conviction involved domestic violence for purposes of determining conditions of pretrial release and sentencing. For instance, misdemeanors involving domestic violence don't qualify for probation without judgment. A domestic violence determination will also impact future charging and sentencing decisions.

Domestic violence sentencing. Some counties offer domestic violence deferred sentencing or intensive supervision programs. In these programs, defendants typically need to attend a batterer intervention program and abide by other conditions.

Below we review crimes commonly associated with domestic violence and corresponding arrest, bail, and firearm restrictions.

(Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 135.245, 135.247, 135.250, 137.533 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes in Oregon?

The crimes listed below represent only a few domestic violence crimes—specifically those with penalties specific to offenses committed against family or household members or in the presence of a child. Scroll down to the penalties section for the maximum punishment associated with the different offense levels.

Assault and Domestic Assault Crimes

Oregon has four degrees of assault, with first degree being the most serious and fourth degree the least. Generally speaking, the greater the harm is, the more severe the penalty will be.

Definition of assault. A person commits assault in Oregon by causing physical injuries or serious physical injuries to another. Physical injuries can include substantial pain and physical harm, such as bruising, cuts, or sprains. Serious physical injuries are those that create a substantial risk of death or cause serious and protracted injuries, such as broken bones, injuries requiring surgery, gunshot wounds, and severe lacerations.

Felony assaults. Any assault that results in serious physical injuries or where a defendant used a weapon intending to cause harm will generally be considered a felony assault in the first, second, or third degree. Penalties range from a class A to C felony.

Misdemeanor assaults. Assaults that result in physical injuries are typically misdemeanors and fall under assault in the fourth degree.

Domestic violence assaults. Assault in the fourth degree (a misdemeanor) bumps up to a class C felony in several instances common to domestic violence, including when:

  • the defendant committed the assault in the presence of a minor
  • the defendant has a prior conviction for assault, strangulation, or menacing involving the same victim
  • the defendant knowingly assaulted a pregnant woman, or
  • the defendant has three prior convictions for assault, strangulation, or menacing.

Menacing is a class A misdemeanor involving a person who intentionally tries to place another person in fear of imminent serious physical injury.

Strangulation Involving Domestic Violence

A person commits the crime of strangulation by knowingly impeding another's normal breathing or blood circulation by applying pressure to their throat, neck, or chest or by blocking their nose or mouth. A conviction generally carries class A misdemeanor penalties. However, the penalty bumps up to a class C felony when the victim was a family or household member or the crime was committed in the presence of a child.

Violating a Family Abuse Restraining Order and Endangerment

Family abuse restraining orders prohibit an abuser from contacting, intimidating, or harming the victim and may direct the abuser to move out of a shared residence. A judge may also prohibit the abuser from possessing any firearms during the duration of the order if the abuser represents a safety threat to the victim.

Violating a family abuse restraining order can result in contempt or criminal proceedings. If found guilty of contempt, the person faces up to six months in jail, a fine, and loss of any security placed with the court. A violation relating to unlawful possession of a firearm carries class A misdemeanor penalties.

Class C felony penalties apply if a defendant intentionally violates the order in a way that:

  • recklessly creates a substantial risk of physical harm to the protected person, or
  • intentionally causes the protected person to fear imminent physical harm

This felony offense is the separate crime of "endangering a person protected by a Family Abuse Prevention Act restraining order."

Penalties for Felonies and Misdemeanors

The maximum penalties for the above-listed offense levels are:

  • class A misdemeanors: up to 364 days in jail and a $6,250 fine
  • class C felony: up to 5 years in prison and a $125,000 fine
  • class B felony: up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and
  • class A felony: up to 20 years in prison and a $375,000 fine.

Certain felonies (such as assault) may also carry mandatory minimum sentences.

(Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 33.105, 107.716, 107.718, 107.720, 137.700, 163.160, 163.175, 163.185, 163.187, 163.190, 163.192, 166.250, 166.255 (2024).)

Arrest, Bail, and Firearm Restrictions for Domestic Violence Charges in Oregon

Oregon law also imposes the following conditions and restrictions in domestic violence cases.

Mandatory Arrests in Domestic Violence Cases

Any time a police officer responds to a domestic disturbance and believes an assault occurred or was about to, the officer must arrest the suspected assailant and take them into custody.

This mandatory arrest policy also applies if police believe a person violated a family abuse restraining order or no-contact order.

Pretrial Release for Domestic Violence Charges

Before releasing a person suspected of domestic violence or violating a no-contact order, a releasing assistance officer must try to contact the victim to hear their position on releasing the defendant.

Pretrial release conditions must generally include a no-contact order prohibiting the defendant from contacting the victim directly or indirectly. The judge may also prohibit the defendant from possessing a firearm. Violating conditional release terms can result in rearrest, detention, and forfeiture of bail (security).

Firearm Restrictions in Domestic Violence Cases

Anyone convicted of a felony or "qualifying misdemeanor" is prohibited from possessing a firearm under Oregon law. Qualifying misdemeanors are those involving the use or attempted use of force or threatened use of a deadly weapon against a family or household member. This firearm prohibition also applies to individuals who are subject to family abuse restraining orders where the judge found the person to be a credible safety threat.

A violation for unlawful firearm possession carries class A misdemeanor penalties. Federal law contains similar firearm prohibitions but much stiffer penalties.

(Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 133.055, 135.235, 135.250, 166.250, 166.255, 166.256, 166.257 (2024); 18 U.S.C. § 922 (2024).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you're facing criminal charges for domestic violence or were served with a protective order, contact a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can help you understand what's at stake and protect your rights.

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