What If It Is My First Offense?
Mar 25, 2022

The state’s sentencing guidelines say judges must consider the seriousness of the crime and the impact on victims, while also keeping in mind the defendant’s age, prior record, and history of substance abuse.

Experience shows that defendants with previous criminal records are sentenced to much longer prison terms than those who have never been convicted of a crime. It’s up to judges to decide when to introduce this information into their sentencing decisions. If you have been convicted of a crime, you should seek the services of an experienced Oregon criminal defense attorney.

If you are being charged with a Measure 11 crime there are minimum sentencing guidelines in place that the judge must follow regardless of it being a first offense. See more about Measure 11 crimes here.

What is a first offense?

A person is guilty of a crime only if they have committed it, however; they do not need to have done it in order to be convicted of it.

The penalty for the crime can be in the form of a fine, community service, or probation. With that said, there is still a possibility of a conviction after someone’s first offense. A judge has discretion to determine how that first offense will be treated.

First offenses are different from repeat offenses because the judge has more information about what led up to the conviction and what factors played into the factors behind the sentence being imposed on someone who had committed their first offense.

The fact that a judge needs more information about why someone was convicted, not just whether or not they were convicted, means that judges are attempting to use their discretion and make decisions based on what actually happened rather than just treating them as repeat offenders who will always have a prison sentence by default.

What is a repeat offense?

A repeat offense is when an individual commits the same type of crime that they have been previously charged and convicted of again. The sentencing and fines are going to be more severe for a repeat offender than for a first-time offender.

Are repeat offenders treated differently?

Judges for first-time offenders tend to be more lenient with their sentences than repeat offenders. Based on the evidence presented the judge will likely consider if there was an intent to commit the crime. The judge will also likely consider whether an alternative sentencing option would serve any community interest; ideally, this would include alternatives other than incarceration, such as diversion, probation, or community service work while avoiding jail time altogether (although jail time could still be an option).

Always Secure Representation To Defend Your Rights

Regardless of whether you have been charged for a first offense or a repeat offense you have the right to legal representation. Hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer who knows the legal system will result in the best possible outcome in your case.