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Court drops charges against Oregon woman

Portland police are human and make mistakes. Not everyone who has been accused of committing a crime is actually guilty -- far from it. However, without the right criminal defense from the beginning of a criminal case, people can be found guilty even if they are actually innocent. And other times, criminal defense strategies can explain why a crime had to be committed and why a person should not face criminal punishments.

In a recent Oregon case, a court has recently ruled that a woman cannot stand trial for an incident that occurred in 2011. Therefore, the charges against the woman have been dropped without prejudice. According to police, on April 22, 2011, the woman shot and killed a police officer during a traffic stop. However, the woman is mentally ill and has never been deemed fit enough to stand trial.

Instead of a criminal conviction, the woman will be monitored and treated by state criminal psychiatrists. The case will be reevaluated in two years to see if the woman is more fit at that time. If the woman recovers from her illness, prosecutors may be able to bring criminal charges against the woman in the future.

In Oregon there are situations where criminal charges can be dropped against a person. In cases of insanity or self-defense, for example, prosecutors may not be able to pursue the charges. However, these are affirmative defenses that must be presented to the court on behalf of the person that has been charged. The court will not automatically consider these possibilities.

People should be aware of all their criminal defense options when they are charged with criminal charges. By understanding their options, people may be able to avoid penalties or get the charges dropped altogether.

Source: KVAL, "Judge rules suspect in officer's shooting death unfit to stand trial," Nov. 6, 2013

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