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Oregon teenager faces misdemeanor charges after gunfight

There are certain situations where the Oregon criminal code has justified the use of violence. In some cases, the laws says it is ok, to use force -- even deadly force -- against another. Usually this force must be made in self-defense.

In a recent case, a grand jury has decided not to prosecute an 18-year-old man for murder and other serious charges following an incident at a MAX station in Southeast Portland because he acted in self-defense. However, the teenager has been charged with two misdemeanors -- tampering with evidence and unlawful possession of a firearm. The teenager has pleaded not guilty to both of these charges.

According to reports, the incident occurred when the man and his girlfriend were approached by three others at the MAX station. The three men apparently pulled weapons on the couple. Reports say that while the man's girlfriend convinced the men to put away their weapons, one of the group still punched the 18-year-old in the face.

At this point, police say that the teenager felt that his life was endangered and pulled a handgun from his pocket and opened fired. In the assault, one of the group was killed and another was injured. Police say that after the gunfight, the 18-year-old took one of the other people's weapons before running off.

While the charges in this case could have been much more severe, misdemeanor charges still need to be taken seriously. Misdemeanor charges can result in jail time of up to one year and have a serious effect on a person's future. However, just like claiming self-defense, there can be justifications for behavior that make a person innocent of any criminal charges. People need to make sure they understand whether any criminal defense strategies apply to their case in order to avoid penalties -- even when the charges are misdemeanors.

Source: The Oregonian, "Teenager pleads not guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from fatal shooting of 15-year-old Portland boy," Maxine Bernstein, Dec. 5, 2013

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