Criminal sex offenses vary from misdemeanors punishable by local jail time to felonies which can carry true life sentences.  Of course, mostly when people think about Sex Offenses, they think about the more serious charges associated with rape and pedophilia.  These are some of the most serious and difficult cases that we face as defense attorneys serving Linn, Benton and Marion Counties, for many reasons. 

One reason sex cases are notoriously hard to defend is because they are often a classic “he said, she said” situation.  There may be no witnesses or physical evidence. In other cases, the alleged incident is often not reported for months or even years, especially when the complaining witness is very young.  In both these instances, the recollections of the alleged victim are often the only evidence.  Of course, just because there is no physical evidence does not mean that there are not experts that can be brought to bear in the defense.  This is why it is important to have an attorney who is well versed in the issues raised in these cases - someone who has all the tools to help. 

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Sex cases can also involve very complex nuances and family dynamics.  Sometimes generations of past abuse cause further abuse. Fighting to get that taken into account can be part of the attorney’s job. And we have all seen the TV plots in which an 18 year old boy is charged with rape for having consensual sex with his 17 year old girlfriend once her father finds out.  The age of consent is 18 in Oregon so that conduct is technically illegal, but there are legal defenses based on the age difference between the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator.  There is a legal argument to be made as to what that should mean in terms of criminal punishment.  

Society rightly takes these charges very seriously so sex offenses are subject to many of the sentencing laws we have here in Oregon: 

  • Measure 11 is a sentencing law that encompasses many different types of serious crimes against persons, including crimes like kidnapping, manslaughter and robbery as well as sex offenses like rape and sodomy.  Mandatory minimum sentences, usually 70 or 90 months, are required depending on the level of the crime.   

  • Jessica’s Law is another mandatory minimum sentencing law which has been instituted in Oregon and in a total of 45 other states across the country.  This law, passed in 2006, applies to only a few offenses and only when the victim is 12 or under and the perpetrator is an adult and requires a 25 year (300 month) sentence.   

  • A third applicable sentencing law in Oregon is the three strikes law which, like most types of three strikes laws, is more controversial.  Though the law says that those convicted of a third felony sex offense should be sentenced to life in prison, there are constitutional concerns about the proportionality of this extreme sentence in particular cases.  The framers of the law did not intend to have someone convicted three times of streaking get life in prison.  They did want a path to keep someone off the street if they continue to rape children after being previously convicted of rape.  Most cases land somewhere between these two extremes and so it is essential to have an attorney who can craft the argument against life in prison. 

And the consequences do not just involve potential jail time or having a felony on your record – if you are convicted of a sex crime, you may be required to register as a sex offender for a minimum of 5 years and sometimes for the rest of your life.  

All these complexities add up to one sure thing – it is important to have a skilled, compassionate attorney on your side through the process, and starting as early in the process as possible.  We have helped people in Albany, Oregon and the surrounding aread through every part of these complex situations from resolving the case before it was even charged to fighting all the way through trial and everything in between.