In Oregon, felonies are crimes that are punishable by more than a year in state prison. Oregon law categorizes felonies as class A, B, C, and unclassified felonies. Read on to learn how felony sentences work in Oregon.
A person charged with a felony in Oregon faces the following maximum penalties.
Class A felonies in Oregon are punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a fine of as much as $375,000, or both. Examples include the following first-degree offenses: kidnapping, rape, arson, and assault.
In Oregon, class B felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. In Oregon, possession of child pornography, extortion, aggravated theft, and second-degree manslaughter are class B felonies.
A conviction for a class C felony in Oregon can result in a maximum of five years in prison, a fine of as much as $125,000, or both. Joyriding, called unauthorized use of a vehicle in Oregon, is an example of a class C felony. Other examples include third-degree robbery, dogfighting, and aggravated harassment.
In Oregon, some felonies are unclassified. Each unclassified offense has its own maximum sentence associated with it. For example, someone convicted of the unclassified felony of aggravated murder faces death or life imprisonment with or without the possibility of parole and a fine of up to $500,000.
(Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 161.605, 161.525, 161.535, 161.625, 163.105 (2022).)
Oregon law contains numerous mandatory minimum sentences for felonies. Below we briefly describe minimums that apply to violent felonies, felony sex offenses, felonies involving firearms, and repeat property felonies. Individual offenses may also have minimums.
A defendant who uses or threatens the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony faces a mandatory minimum sentence. The minimum ranges from 5 to 30 years depending on the type of firearm and a defendant's record of prior sentencing under this provision.
A defendant who has been convicted two or more times of the following crimes (any combination) faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years: first-degree offenses for rape, sodomy, and unlawful sexual penetration, as well as use of a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.
Oregon voters (in 1994) enacted Measure 11—a law that imposes mandatory minimum sentences for a list of (now) more than 20 serious crimes against persons. The mandatory minimums apply to first offenses and range from 5 years and 10 months to 25 years. Examples of Measure 11 crimes include the following offenses in the first and second degrees: murder, manslaughter, assault, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, and robbery. Only under very limited circumstances does the law allow a judge to order a reduced sentence.
Another voter measure—Measure 57—increases the "presumptive sentences" for certain repeat property crimes. (Presumptive sentences reflect the standard sentence that should apply in most cases.) Some examples of Measure 57 property crimes include aggravated theft, aggravated identity theft, burglary in the first and second degrees, joyriding, computer crimes, forgery, and robbery.
(Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 137.690, 137.700, 137.707, 137.717, 137.725, 161.610 (2022).)
Oregon, like quite a few states, uses sentencing guidelines to help guide judges' felony sentencing decisions. Unless a mandatory minimum sentence applies (like those described in the above section), the judge will look to the guidelines to determine the presumptive sentence based on the seriousness of the offense and the defendant's criminal history. The guidelines set out both the sentence length and disposition of prison or probation.
Here's an example of how the guidelines work. The guidelines use a grid with an X-axis and Y-axis to identify what sentence applies based on crime seriousness (1 to 11, least to most) and criminal history (A to I, highest to lowest). The grid indicates a presumptive sentence for every letter/number combination.
Say two people are convicted of felony bribery (crime seriousness 6), both of whom have no criminal record (criminal history I). These defendants should get the same or a very similar sentence (of 180 days' imprisonment) because they fall under the same crime category and criminal history levels (6-I). But had one of those defendants had a long criminal rap sheet (say criminal history A), the guidelines would set a longer sentence for this defendant based on the increased criminal history score (the sentence in block 6-A is 2 ½ years). (You can view the grid on the Criminal Justice Commission's website.)
Judges must generally impose the sentence recommended in the guidelines. However, if a minimum sentence applies, this minimum typically overrides a lower guidelines sentence.
But, in no instance, can a judge sentence above the maximum penalty specified for that felony class. Say a defendant is convicted of a class B felony (10-year maximum). For that offense, the law sets a minimum sentence of 5 years. The judge can impose a sentence anywhere between 5 and 10 years.
Oregon, like most states, limits how long prosecutors have to file criminal charges. The law that imposes this time limit is known as the statute of limitations. A defendant can ask the judge to dismiss any felony charges filed by a prosecutor after the time limit expires.
In Oregon, the most serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder, and manslaughter have no time limits associated with them—meaning these charges can be filed at any time. Other felony offenses have statutes of limitations of 3, 4, 6, or 12 years, depending on the crime. (Or. Rev. Stat. § 131.125 (2022).)
If you're convicted of a felony offense in Oregon, you face the possibility of a large fine and a very long prison sentence. Contact a criminal defense lawyer if you're being investigated for, or charged with, a felony. A local defense attorney can help you understand the criminal legal system, protect your rights, and mount a strong defense.