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James O'Rourke - Measure 11 attorney Portland Oregon

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Law Offices of James F. O'Rourke Jr. and Associates

503-221-1425 - Portland Office

Measure 11 Criminal Defense


James F. O'Rourke Jr. and Associates Measure 11 defense attorneys


Mr. O’Rourke is an experienced Measure 11 defense attorney for cases in Portland, Oregon City, Hillsboro and other courts throughout Oregon.  Mr. O’Rourke began practicing law as a criminal defense lawyer in Portland, Oregon in 1978.

Measure 11 defense attorney James O’Rourke provides Measure 11 defense mostly in the Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties.  Recently he has enjoyed great success in representing persons charged with Measure 11 Robbery and Assault crimes which were motivated by drug addiction and mental health issues.

Measure 11 - One Strike and You Are Out

Persons convicted of Measure 11 crimes in Oregon are automatically sentenced to minimum mandatory prison sentences of 75 months and up per crime depending upon the individual's criminal record. There is no good time. There is no early parole. The person does every day of his or her sentence in prison.

The horror of Ballot Measure 11 is that persons with absolutely no criminal record who have been responsible, productive citizens and inexperienced young persons face harsh sentences for a first offense.

Mr. O'Rourke & staff work as a team for you

Top Oregon Criminal Defense lawyers and attorneys provide Measure 11 defense in the cities of Portland, Gresham and Beaverton, the Counties of Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington and surrounding areas.

We use the same three methods to fight the State and win in Measure 11 cases that we use in other criminal cases:  Attack including investigation, legal motions and trial.  Negotiation before and after Measure 11 charges are filed.  Mitigation plans to persuade Judges to make decisions within their discretion which are favorable to our clients.


We look for every way to get you out of Measure 11. One option is to go to trial. We create powerful trial teams which focus specialized expertise and decades of trial experience upon winning a particular case.


For most crimes, only the District Attorney has the authority to reduce a charge from Measure 11. We have learned through experience what it takes to get charges reduced.


Judges must give Measure 11 sentences for each conviction except for crimes subject to the Measure 11 Escape Clause where they can impose a sentence that is less than the presumed Measure 11 sentence including a sentence of probation. Where there are more than one conviction, the judge also has the discretion to make the sentences concurrent, (served at the same time), or consecutive, (served one after the other).

Call us for a free Measure 11 telephone consultation at 503-221-1425 or you can tell us about your case here.

Among The Services We Provide To Our Measure 11 Clients Are The Following:

• Pre charge representation and investigation

• Assert your rights and protect yourself.  Do not talk to the police or try to make deals without a lawyer!

• Bail Reduction and Release Hearings

• Changing Release Conditions

• Motion to Suppress – main weapon to keep damaging evidence out of a Measure 11 Case

• Trial

• Plea Bargains – negotiated resolutions

• Sentencing hearings

• Probation and Post Prison Supervision violation hearings

We Let Our Results Speak For Us

Our reputation and success are based upon our results and upon the way we treat our clients.

Measure 11 Escape Clause

There is an Escape Clause from the mandatory minimum sentences for certain Measure 11 charges for persons convicted of:

Assault In The Second Degree (Assault Two) as defined in ORS 163.175(1)(b) for crimes committed on or after October 4, 1997.

Kidnapping In The Second Degree (Kidnapping Two) as defined in ORS 163.225 for crimes committed on or after October 4, 1997.

Manslaughter In the Second Degree (Manslaughter Two) as defined in ORS 163.125 for crimes committed on or after October 4, 1997.

Robbery In The Second Degree (Robbery Two) as defined in ORS 164.405 for crimes committed on or after October 4, 1997.

Rape In The Second Degree (Rape Two) as defined in ORS 163.365 for crimes committed on or after January 1, 2002.

Sexual Abuse In The First Degree (Sex Abuse One) as defined in ORS 163.427(1)(a)(A) for crimes committed on or after January 1, 2002.

Sodomy In The Second Degree (Sodomy One) as defined in ORS 163.395 for crimes committed on or after January 1, 2002.

Unlawful Sexual Penetration In The Second Degree as defined in ORS 163.408 for crimes committed on or after January 1, 2002.

If a person is convicted of one of these crimes, we can still get out of Measure 11 if we prove certain facts and persuade the Court that there are substantial and compelling reasons which justify a lesser sentence.


Measure 11 Robbery

The definition of robbery under Oregon law is complex and there are many ways in which the crime of robbery can be proven.  In essence, robbery is the taking or keeping of the property of another by the use or threatened use of force.  The lowest form of robbery is Robbery In The Third Degree, which is a Class C Felony.  Robbery In The Third Degree is not a Measure 11 offense.

Different factual circumstances can elevate a Robbery in the Third Degree to Robbery in the First or Second Degree, both of which are Measure 11 offenses.

If, during the course of a robbery,  a person represents by word or conduct that the person is armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon, regardless of whether the person actually has a dangerous or deadly weapon, the offense becomes Robbery In The Second Degree.  In addition, if a person commits a robbery and is aided by another person who is physically present, the offense is elevated to Robbery In The Second Degree.  Robbery In The Second Degree is a Measure 11 offense with a 70 month mandatory minimum prison sentence.

A robbery is elevated to Robbery In The First Degree if, during the course of a robbery, a person a person is: armed with a deadly weapon; uses or attempts to use a dangerous weapon; or causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury.   Robbery In The First Degree is a Measure 11 offense with a 90 month mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Even minor theft cases can become robberies.  For example, two young people stealing beer from a grocery store commit the crime of Theft In The Third Degree, a low misdemeanor.  However, if they shove their way past a security guard trying to stop them, it becomes a Robbery In The Second Degree.  The punishment increases from a possible 30 days in jail to a mandatory 70 months in prison.

The most common factual scenario for Robbery In The Second Degree is when a person takes property with a simulated weapon,  a toy gun or by claiming to be armed with a weapon.

The most common factual scenario for Robbery In The First Degree is when a person takes property while in possession of, or threatens the use of a firearm or a knife.  Firearms and knives are, by definition, “deadly weapons” because they are specifically designed for inflicting serious physical injury.  “Dangerous weapons” are common items which can be used in a manner that can cause serious physical injury.  Examples of dangerous weapons include vehicles, heavy boots (when used to kick another person) or even a common sidewalk, if one slams another person on the pavement.

Measure 11 Assault

Assault in the First and Second Degree fall under the mandatory minimum sentencing provisions of Measure 11.  Under Measure 11, the Court is authorized, and sometimes required, to impose a sentence for a specific period of months.  That sentence must be fully served with no reductions for good behavior or participation in prison programs.

A person commits the crime of Assault in the First Degree if they intentionally cause serious physical injury to another be means of a deadly or dangerous weapon.  A person commits the crime of Assault in the Second Degree if the person causes physical injury to another by means of a Deadly or Dangerous weapon.

A deadly weapon is an object that is specifically designed for and can be used to cause death or serious injury.  Included in this class of weapons would be guns and knives.  A dangerous weapon is an object that, while not designed to cause death or serious physical injury, can be used in such a manner that it can cause serious physical injury.  Examples of this kind of weapon have included steel toed boots (when used to kick someone) any heavy object that can be used as a club and even the pavement on a sidewalk (when a person’s head is slammed into a wall).

The most common factual scenario for Assault in the First Degree and Assault in the Second degree is a physical altercation.  Often these altercations involve mutual combat.  However, the moment that a person arms himself with a weapon, he very likely defeats any claim of self-defense, because an attack with a weapon against an unarmed person can be a disproportionate response to any perceived threat.  The problem in these cases is that the seriousness of the offense is determined by the severity of the injuries, which a person may not anticipate at all.

For instance, if two people agree to engage in mutual combat and one person slams the other person’s head on the concrete, causing injuries, that person can be charged with Assult in the Second degree, even if the injuries are not very serious.  Assault in the Second Degree carries a 70 month prison term under Measure 11.  If the injuries are more serious, causing a concussion or a skull fracture, the person can be charged with Assault in the First Degree.  Assault in the First Degree carries a 90 month prison term under Measure 11.


Call us for a free Measure 11 telephone consultation at 503-221-1425 or you can tell us about your case here.

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Quote LeftOne day, I received a tearful voice message from my 19 year old son that would forever rock our world.

It all began the prior year, my son had developed a drug problem. After undergoing drug and alcohol counseling, he had voluntarily entered rehab. During the 12 Step process, the truth came out. Prior to rehab, he had committed a drug induced robbery. Questions filled my thoughts, would the judge see all the changes he had made during the 11 months following: life in a clean and sober house, NA meetings and fulltime employment? Would he acknowledge his renewed focus on recovery as he put his life back together?

I still remember the detective who interviewed him saying, "this is a sad case. This young man has turned his life around and now we're putting him in jail. We usually do this when people can't help themselves." Also, the detective revealed that this was a Measure 11 crime and very serious.

During the two weeks my son was given to turn himself in, we met with Jim O'Rourke. From the start he was the right Criminal Defense Attorney, creative and experienced. His passion for fighting Measure 11 crimes for first time offenders and young adults was clear.

My son was in jail during the legal process. Jim encouraged him to have patience and was able to get a criminal psychologist to evaluate and documenting for the court the unlikelihood of him re- offending. Jim arranged ongoing counseling which helped ease his stress and provide the court with a time line showing the growth and changes he made.

ln the end result, the sentence was taken out of Measure 11 and reduced to a Felony C charge. He would now get time off for good behavior, early release and the possibility of an alternative program with minimum security. The charges were reduced from 70 months to between 29 to 39.

The judge's closing statement to my son said it all, "You've been given a gift." Our family thanks Jim for his efforts and ability to see beyond the charge and into the young man who was worth fighting for. client testimonial
~ A Grateful Mother and Family

Quote Left There were more expensive attorneys out there, but we believe that we couldn't have had a better defense at any price.

Every interaction we had with Mr. O'Rourke left us with the impression that we were his only client; worthy of his full attention. He gave our son more than just legal advice; he gave him life skills advice. He remains truly concerned about his well being. client testimonial
~ Greg and Gail P.

more client references here