The Oregon Court of Appeals recently ruled that a law enforcement inventory policy was too broad to withstand constitutional scrutiny in State v. Steele, 290 Or. App. 675 (2018). In this case, defendant was convicted of possession of methamphetamine in the trial court. Defendant appealed, arguing that the drugs were seized illegally in violation of the Oregon Constitution. In the trial court and on appeal, the state argued that the drugs would have been found during the defendant's booking, applying the inevitable discovery doctrine, as the defendant's belongings would have been searched during booking. Defendant argued that the state could not rely on this doctrine, because the inventory policy it wanted to rely on was not valid, as it was overbroad. As the Court of Appeals reiterated in this case, "[t]o prevail on a theory of inevitable discovery by inventory, the state must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the inventory would have been conducted according to a properly authorized administrative program so that the inventory involves no exercise of discretion, and that the evidence would have been discovered during the inventory." The Court of Appeals found that, in this case, the state failed to do that. This case shows what any good criminal law lawyer knows -- cases can be won and lost on motions. To protect your constitutional rights, whether your case is in Grants Pass, as this case was, or in Portland -- the best criminal law attorneys will review all cases carefully to see whether there are grounds for suppression or other motions.
In State v. Cole, 290 Or App 553 (2018), the Oregon Court of Appeals considered the state's argument that a man was guilty of burglary in the first degree because, when he broke into his former girlfriend's apartment and then made himself something to eat and watched TV, he broke into the apartment with the intent to steal his former girlfriend's electricity. The Court of Appeals didn't buy this argument, in part because there was no evidence of the man's intent when he broke into the apartment.
This case shows how the state can overcharge criminal cases, when less serious charges are more appropriate to the facts of the crime. Prosecutors sometimes do this so they can strengthen their negotiating position. When this happens, it may be necessary to fight back. An experienced criminal law attorney can make all the difference.