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State v. Coughlin

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-09-2013
Case #: A151027
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A151027.pdf

Post-Conviction Relief: A charge of contempt of court is considered neither a conviction nor an offense for purposes setting aside a past conviction under ORS 137.225(1).

Tracy Coughlin appealed the trial court’s decision to disallow the setting aside of a past forgery charge because she had been held in contempt of court. Coughlin moved to have the 1990 forgery charge set aside under ORS 137.225(1). Coughlin argued that she had not had any convictions within the past 10 years and had no criminal cases pending against her. The State argued that being held in contempt rendered her ineligible to have her past conviction set aside. The State argued that contempt was a conviction under statute and an offense for the purposes of setting aside a conviction.  Coughlin contended that being held in contempt of court was neither a conviction nor an offense as defined by statute. The Court agreed, reasoning that a person who has been found in contempt of court has not been convicted of anything. Further, the Court has repeatedly held that contempt alone is not a conviction. In addition, the Court held that contempt is not an offense because it is neither a crime nor a violation. Therefore, contempt falls outside the definition of an offense. Because contempt is neither a conviction nor offense, it does not apply to ORS 137.225(1). Reversed and remanded.