State v. Davidson

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 09-22-2016
  • Case #: S063387
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Brewer, J., for the Court; En Banc.
  • Full Text Opinion

The constitutionality of a sentence based on repeated sex offense convictions “depend[s] on the seriousness of repetitive sexual conduct of th[e] kind [punished] and the danger that it forecasts for others unless the defendant is segregated from society.” State v. Althouse, 359 Or. 668, 685 (quoting Jensen v. Gladden, 231 Or. 141, 144-45 (1962)) (internal quotes omitted).

Defendant appealed conviction of two counts of public indecency, resulting in overturning of his life sentence convictions as unconstitutional under Article I, section 16, of the Oregon Constitution. Both Defendant and the State appealed the Court of Appeals’ decision, the State arguing that Defendant’s sentence was not unconstitutionally disproportionate to the convicted crimes.

Under ORS 137.719(1), “if the defendant has been sentenced for [felony sex crimes] at least [twice] prior,” the presumptive sentence for a subsequent felony sex crime is “life imprisonment without the possibility of release or parole.” The constitutionality of a sentence based on repeated sex offense convictions “depend[s] on the seriousness of repetitive sexual conduct of th[e] kind [punished] and the danger that it forecasts for others unless the defendant is segregated from society.” State v. Althouse, 359 Or. 668, 685 (quoting Jensen v. Gladden, 231 Or. 141, 144-45 (1962)) (internal quotes omitted). Applying the factors previously laid out in State v. Rodriguez/Buck, 347 Or. 46 (2009), and expanded upon in Althouse, the Supreme Court determined that Defendant’s criminal history consisted of the type of public indecency that would generally be charged as a misdemeanor, and was not as serious as “nonconsensual sexual conduct or sexual behaviors targeting children.” The Court therefore held that a sentence of true-life imprisonment violated Defendant’s Article I, section 16, rights against disproportionate sentences.

In addition, the Court upheld Defendant’s convictions as proper.

Reversed and remanded for resentencing; otherwise affirmed.

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