What Happens if I Plead the Fifth Your Rights in Court

The United States’ Fifth Amendment states that no one can compel an individual in a criminal case to be a witness against themselves. Also known as “pleading the fifth,” this law guarantees a person has the right to protect themselves from self-incrimination. Pleading the fifth is different depending on the trial—civil or criminal—and whether an individual is a witness. If you find yourself wondering what happens if I plead the fifth, we lay out the information you need below.

Your Rights to Plead the Fifth

Pleading the Fifth in a Criminal Trial

The most common application of the Fifth Amendment is in a criminal trial. This is when the defendant always has the right and opportunity to refuse to testify in court. No one in court, neither judge, prosecution, or jury, can make the defendant take the stand. Even better for the defendant, the jury cannot use the defendant’s choice to plead the fifth as an aspect for their deliberations. However, if the defendant does not make this choice, they must answer all questions posed.

Pleading the Fifth in a Civil Trial

Invoking the Fifth Amendment in a civil trial can come at a high price. Unlike a criminal trial, a jury can make assumptions about the defendant if he/she chooses not to testify. This can play a large role in the jury’s deliberations as it gives them a reason to draw an adverse inference. An attorney might have the defendant speak up anyway as it will create a better situation for the defendant.

Pleading the Fifth as a Witness

On the other hand, being a witness in a trial—civil or criminal—allows you the Fifth Amendment right as well. If an individual is a witness to a crime or action, he or she can plead the fifth and not answer the question if it will lead to self-incrimination. Witnesses often go this route when they fear their testimony or answer to a question does not pertain to the case at hand. However, pleading the fifth does not allow a witness to avoid testifying altogether. More often than not, the court will subpoena witnesses, which means that they have to testify. This can sometimes lead to the witness’ immunity in exchange for a testimony. As such, the witness will not receive charges for any incriminating statements.

When Can I Not Plead the Fifth?

Pleading the Fifth only applies toward verbal evidence. Therefore, any evidence that is noncommunicative does not fall under the Fifth Amendment. For example, one cannot object to the collection of DNA, fingerprinting, or anything similar by pleading the fifth. That said, it’s important to note that the Fifth Amendment only allows the right to remain silent, not the right to complete immunity for a defendant. If you need assistance with a trial, reach out to a Portland prostitution attorney, who can aid you in deciding when to plead the fifth or to speak up.

Impaired Driving: Your DUII Rights in Oregon

There are many different terms for drunk driving: DUI, DWI, OWI, DUII, and more. Oregon specifically uses the term “driving under the influence of intoxicants” or DUII. This term encompasses more than just driving with a high blood alcohol content level and extends to impairment via drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two.

When police pull someone over for a DUII, it’s often due to the fact that alcohol abuse is so common. According to the Cleveland Clinic, “it is estimated that 67.3% of the population consumes alcohol and that 7.4% of the population meets the criteria for alcohol abuse.” This fact has cops pulling more people over than before. Below we’ve outlined the rights you have during the DUII process—read on for more pertinent information.

What Proves a DUII Conviction?

There are two main components that result in a DUII conviction. The first is that a police officer sees you operating a vehicle on a road or premise open to the public. The second component is that the police officer must show that you were under the influence of an intoxicant. They will try to prove this with a BAC test, field sobriety tests, or with drug recognition exams. However, every citizen has rights when it comes to these three tests which are important to understand.

Refusing Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests typically include walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. If you were to perform these actions, you are consenting to a search. However, you have an absolute right to refuse the tests. Many people do not realize that they have this right since it’s the officer’s job to make it seem required. Refusal is often a good idea as officers do not necessarily design the tests for someone to pass—whether sober or intoxicated. If you refuse, you should expect to hear warnings from the officer(s).

Refusing Breathalyzer Tests

In Oregon, there are separate penalties for failing to or refusing to take a test. If you fail a breathalyzer test, license suspensions last for 90 days, and if you refuse the test this will last for one year. It is technically within your rights to refuse breathalyzer tests, however, refusing one can come with harsher penalties than if you take the test. If you refuse, the state will suspend your license, police will charge you with a “refusing a breath test” fine of $650, and if the case goes to court they can use that refusal as evidence of guilt.

Refusing the Search of Your Car

Frequently when a person is pulled over, the police will ask to search the vehicle. You have the right to refuse a search no matter where you are, especially if they do not have a warrant. Find out more about saying no to a police officer, here.

Remaining Silent

Another big aspect for anyone pulled over or charged with any crime, in general, is that you have the right to remain silent. Use that. You do not have to answer any questions that an officer asks of you. They can use anything you say against you in court, so it is often better to refrain from speaking. Your Clackamas County DUII attorney will be glad you stayed quiet!

7 Factors that Influence Your BAC Level

We’ve previously discussed how alcohol affects the body by delving into the various BAC levels. It’s important to understand those levels, and it’s just as important to recognize the different factors that influence your BAC level. According to the Center for Disease Control, “in 2016, more than 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol of narcotics. That’s one percent of the 111 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among U.S. adults each year.” To keep from adding to this statistic and to stay informed, below you’ll find the various factors that impact your BAC level.

7 Factors that Affect BAC

1. Metabolism

Metabolism differs from person to person, so the rate at which your body processes alcohol is completely different than your friend’s rate. Your body absorbs alcohol faster than it can metabolize it, so the faster you drink, the less time you give your body to process and metabolize that liquid.

2. Age/Weight/Gender

As you get older, the intoxicating effects of alcohol become stronger and more pronounced. Drinking also affects men and women differently; since women typically have lower water content levels than men, it affects them more than it does men. Those who weigh less are also more heavily influenced by alcohol than those with a higher fat percentage.

3. Rate of Consumption

The faster someone drinks, the quicker their peak BAC will raise and the more quickly they’ll get intoxicated. Your liver is how the body processes alcohol, and this organ can only process one standard drink per hour. When that rate is surpassed, more alcohol filters into the blood system, which causes people to get drunk faster.

4. Emotional State

Alcohol effects people even more than usual if they’re under stress or fatigued. Alcohol is a depressant, so if one is experiencing any form of stress, anxiety, or depression, they will be more heavily impacted by booze. When stressed, your body diverts blood from your stomach to your muscles, which slows the rate of absorption. When you calm down and your blood starts to flow normally, even in the slightest, that can result in an uptick in your BAC.

5. Diabetes

If an individual has diabetes, alcohol can affect glucose levels. Diabetics should always avoid drinking on an empty stomach as that can lead to hypoglycemia and other harmful results. Talk to a doctor so you know the healthiest way to proceed with alcohol consumption.

6. Mixing with Carbonation

Mixing liquor with water and juices will slow the absorption process in your body, whereas carbonated beverages will speed it up. The bubbles in the soda increase the rate at which alcohol passes through your stomach and into your bloodstream, which then results in a higher BAC level.

7. Food Intake

One of the worst things you can do for your body is to drink on an empty stomach. Food slows down the absorption in your bloodstream since it keeps the alcohol in your stomach for longer. When you drink on any empty stomach, not only will the alcohol speed to your bloodstream more quickly, but it will also severely impact your blood sugar and other nutritional levels.

It is of the utmost importance to pay attention to these factors if you decide to drink. Even more importantly, you need to make sure that you drink responsibly, stay safe, and you do not drink while driving. If something happens and you require legal help, get in contact with a West Linn DUII attorney.

The 4 Different Classifications of Assault Crimes

Across America, assault is considered either a misdemeanor or a felony. These charges are serious and fall under a wide range of actions, resulting in harsh charges and consequences. In Oregon, there are four different levels of assault. Below we will discuss the four classifications of assault crimes.

First, it’s important to note that in fiscal year 2017, “the courts reported 66,783 felony and Class A misdemeanor cases to the commission. This represents a decrease of 869 cases from the prior fiscal year.” Though the number has decreased, there are still a plethora of these charges brought against people every day. Stay in the know of what is considered assault and the different levels of severity. 

Assault in the Fourth Degree

Typically considered a Class A misdemeanor in Oregon, assault in the fourth degree falls underneath two categories. Either the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly did something that resulted in physical harm to another, or the offender acted with criminal negligence by means of a dangerous weapon which resulted in physical harm.

If you have past charges you may receive a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor for this crime, so stay cautious, and don’t add to the statistic of annual felony charges.

Assault in the Third Degree

There are many different actions that fall under third degree assault. These crimes are always considered Class C felonies, unless the offender was intoxicated and operating a vehicle, in which case it is considered a Class B. You’ll find the actions listed below from ORS 163.165 directly:

  • Recklessly cause serious physical injury to another person with a dangerous or deadly weapon.
  • Recklessly cause serious physical injury to another person under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.
  • Recklessly cause physical injury to another person with a dangerous or deadly weapon person under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.
  • You cause physical injury to another person while you are aided by somebody else actually present.
  • You are at least 18 or older and you intentionally or knowingly cause injury to a child aged 10 years old or younger.

Assault in the Second Degree

Often classified as a Measure 11 offense, an assault in the second degree is very serious. If you’re convicted of such you can expect to spend 70 months in prison. From ORS 163.175 verbatim, you can be charged with second degree assault if you:

  • Intentionally or knowingly cause serious physical injury to another.
  • Intentionally or knowingly cause physical injury to another with the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon.
  • Recklessly cause serious physical injury to another through the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon under the circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life.

For these actions, any injury caused with a weapon can bring a Measure 11 charge down with you.

Assault in the First Degree

Finally, the most serious assault charge is that of assault in the first degree. It is a Measure 11 crime without fail and will result in at least 90 months in prison without reduction. For the crime to be in the first degree it must result in a “serious physical injury.” These actions detailed in ORS 163.185 are as follows:

  • Intentionally cause serious physical injury to another person by the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon (e.g. shooting someone with a gun).
  • Intentionally or knowingly cause serious physical injury to a child aged 6 or younger.
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause serious physical injury to another, and you are driving under the influence, and you have at least 3 prior DUII convictions.

If you have been charged with any of these crimes, contact a criminal defense attorney in Clackamas County. A good lawyer can help you reduce these charges or at least lessen the consequences. You can find more about the different consequences of felonies, here.

7 Common Types of Felonies and Their Consequences

A felony is the most serious type of crime and covers a vast array of criminal acts. That said, a lot of people don’t realize that there are many types of felonies. To clarify the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, we focus on the various types of felonies and the consequences of these actions.

In Oregon, there are two different levels of crime: misdemeanor and felony. The state defines some felony crimes further as a Measure 11 crime. Crimes included in Measure 11 are just considered felonies in other states, but Oregon has Measure 11 to ensure minimum sentences are carried out for those violent crimes and serious sex offenses. Each felony crime falls within a different class.

Various Classes of Felonies

There are four separate categories for felony crimes, and they all vary in sentencing. That said, because of the Measure 11 law, there are some crimes that have an even higher sentencing with more extreme consequences. The basic sentencing and fining guide for felonies can be seen here.

Crime ClassMaximum SentenceFine
Class “C” FelonyUp to five yearsUp to $125,000
Class “B” FelonyUp to 10 yearsUp to $250,000
Class “A” FelonyUp to 20 yearsUp to $375,000
“Unclassified” FelonyPenalties are specific to the crime

A full list of the different felonies and misdemeanors in Oregon can help determine how to classify a crime. Below, we’ll specifically discuss some of the most common types of felonies.

Different Types of Felonies

Felonies Against a Person

Assault

Assault can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the situation. Assault with a dangerous weapon, for example, is considered a Class B felony, but “simple assault” (like punching someone with an intent to cause harm) is a Class A misdemeanor. If an assault charge is in the first or second degrees, then it is a Measure 11 crime and punishable by a mandatory 70 months in prison. Assault felonies range from the first to third degrees and all result in serious jail time.

Rape and Sexual Assault

In Oregon, there are numerous sexual assault and rape laws. The consequences and charges of such actions range based upon a few different things: the type of sexual misconduct, the age of the victim, and whether the offender was in a position of authority. First degree through third degree rape or sodomy, sexual abuse, unlawful sexual penetration, and more are considered felonies and result in serious consequences. Measure 11 law gives a minimum sentence for rape and sexual abuse of 75 months.

Promoting Prostitution

Considered a Class C felony in Oregon, promoting prostitution can result in a fine of up to $125,000. Specifically, promoting prostitution is when a person owns, controls, or supervises a place of prostitution. This felony crime can also incur a charge of up to five years in jail.

Kidnapping

Kidnapping in the first degree is considered a Class A felony and a Class B felony if in the second degree. The definition of such an action is when a person or group of people take a person(s) against their will to an undisclosed location. It may be done for ransom or to further another crime. The term “custodial interference” is also often linked with kidnapping and refers to when a person takes an individual from another person’s lawful custody. Holding the victim as a hostage is a typical example of kidnapping in the first degree.

Felonies Against a Property

Theft

There are two different types of theft considered to be felonies in Oregon. The least severe is theft in the first degree, which is a Class C felony and the total value of the property stolen is $1,000 or more. It’s also a Class C felony when the theft occurs during a riot, when it’s the theft of a firearm or explosive, livestock, or of a precursor substance (something that can be used to manufacture synthetic drugs). The second kind of theft is called aggravated theft in the first degree, which is a Class B felony. This is when the total value of the property is over $10,000 or more.

Arson

Arson is a type of property crime that is considered either a Class C or Class A felony. The action itself is the intentional burning of any type of structure, whether that be building, land, or forest. If the crime results in any bodily injury, then it is considered Class A felony. Another difference between the two classes is whether the property burned was protected or not.

Drug Crimes

Recently, Oregon reduced the charge for possessing a small quantity of drugs to a misdemeanor charge for first-time offenders. However, delivery of controlled substances (DCS) and manufacturing controlled substances (MCS) are still considered felonies. Essentially, the delivery of any amount of heroin is a Class A felony, but the possession of a small amount can be considered a misdemeanor.

Statute of Limitations

Those were just a few of the many different types of felonies, but they showcase how varied crimes and their charges can be. That said, the state of Oregon has a limit on how prosecutors file a criminal charge. Oregon’s Statute of Limitations law imposes a time limit to take legal action and begins as soon as someone commits a crime.

Serious crimes like manslaughter, attempted murder, and murder have no time limits associated with them, but crimes like rape are different. Certain felony sexual offenses have six years after the crime, but if the victim at the time of the crime was under 18 years of age, then there’s a 12-year limitation after the offense is reported. Other felonies tend to have about three years before the Statute of Limitations is up.

Consequences of Felony Crimes

Felony charges have some of the most serious penalties that any type of crime can have. Substantial prison time and fines are just the beginning of the consequences. Felony charges have a major effect on your rights as a citizen of the United States. It can affect your ability to obtain a job, to find and acquire a home, and so much more.

Felony charges also stay on your record forever. According to Code for America, in the United States “1 in 3 people have a criminal record that appears on a routine background check. That means that 70 to 100 million people are left out of the workforce, unable to get student loans, housing, and face a host of other obstacles.” A criminal charge is detrimental to both your personal and professional life.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, contact a Clackamas County criminal defense attorney. Jared Justice and his team will work with you to find the best outcome possible for your case.

7 Common Types of Felonies and Their Consequences infographic

5 Smart Tips for Staying Safe at College Parties

Partying has been a part of the college culture for years. According to the Alcohol Rehab Guide, “roughly 80 percent of college students—four out of every five—consume alcohol to some degree. It’s estimated that 50 percent of those students engage in binge drinking.” These drinking habits are often quite hazardous and come with various consequences—especially when minors are involved. Follow these tips to help you stay safe at college parties.

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5 Risks of Drinking in the Sun & Tips to Stay Safe

Everyone wants to enjoy the sunshine during the summer. Beaches, barbeques, festivals—all of it sounds like a fantastic time. A lot of people like to celebrate the warm weather with a refreshing beverage, but when those drinks include alcohol, the result can be dangerous.

It’s important to indulge in alcoholic drinks responsibly, as a lot of summer activities turn hazardous when mixed with boozy beverages. Found below are the various risks of drinking in the sun, along with some tips on how to stay safe if you decide to do so.

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Five Common Types of Property Crime You Should Know

Property crime happens every day, all around us. Fortunately, according to the FBI, in 2018 compared to 2017 “burglaries were down 12.7 percent [and] larceny-thefts decreased 6.3 percent.” The consequences of such crimes vary depending on circumstance and type.

Before we get into the consequences, however, it’s important to understand what exactly property crimes are. A property crime refers to a category of crimes that involve the destruction or theft of another person’s property, such as graffiti, littering, or robbery. Learn more about the common types of property crime below.

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Definition and Consequences of Cyberbullying & Cyberstalking

For years, people have been talking about the harmful consequences of cyberbullying. Yet, many continue to use the internet as a way to safeguard themselves while attacking others. And although this method may seem safe to the cyberbully, there are plenty of harsh consequences. As these acts have become more prevalent and more intense with the advancement of technology, it’s important to stay up-to-date on what the definitions and the various consequences of these harmful acts.

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