As I write this, there is a chill in the air and the leaves are starting to fall. College and high school classes are in full swing, as are football games, dances, and parties. Naturally, as a criminal defense lawyer, my thoughts turn toward the many ways students can get into legal trouble this time of year. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Thanks to all of our diversion and deferred sentencing programs, a lapse in judgment doesn’t have to ruin your kid’s education and career plans.
Did You Know? Community Court. The most common low level misdemeanor violation for college parties is a pretty obvious one: furnishing alcohol to a minor. Other common charges include minor in possession of alcohol, drinking in public, providing a place for minors to consume alcohol, and disorderly conduct.
The good news? Multnomah County offers community court for all of these. I’ve been involved in community court since its inception, and I think it’s a great way for students to learn from their mistakes and make amends without having a conviction on their record. Once the person completes the court’s requirements, the case is dismissed. Then, he or she will need to take additional steps to have the record of the case completely expunged so that it doesn’t show up on background checks. Washington County court, Clackamas County court, and most of the municipal courts such as Lake Oswego Municipal Court, offer some version of Multnomah County’s community court program.
Did You Know? DUII Diversion Program. For students who decide to drive home drunk after the party, dance, or game, Oregon fortunately has the DUII Diversion program. Assuming the person is eligible for the program and completes it successfully, the DUII case is dismissed. Again, students can continue with their education and career pursuits without the burden of a criminal conviction. In cases of DUII, however, the arrest record is not eligible for expungement. Still, a dismissal is much better than a conviction.
No one likes to talk about it, but there are always students who bring drugs to the party. The consequences to these students depend on (1) the type of drug; (2) the amount of the drug (residue? Small personal use amount? Enough to share?); and (3) whether the student was sharing or selling the drug to others. In some instances community court may be an option, while in others a drug diversion program may work. Multnomah County ‘s program is commonly referred to as the STOP program, and other counties also offer a version of this program. Again, completion of the court requirements results in a dismissal of the charge. Unlike with DUII Diversion, people who earn a dismissal of their drug charge may immediately petition the court to set aside the record of arrest (or citation in lieu of arrest).
*Marijuana cases have their own set of rules. Given the potential passage of Measure 91- the marijuana legalization statute, I’ll defer the marijuana discussion a few weeks.
I hope this gives you information about the options that are available to kids, and adults as well. Diversion and deferred sentencing can make a huge difference – and are available here in Oregon. While it’s not something you want to think about, it’s good to be aware of options just in case. Bad judgment doesn’t have to ruin your kid’s future.