State v. Jackson
Case #: A148024
Egan, J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Nakamoto, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A148024.pdf
Criminal Law: Where a stalking charge is based purely on communication, the State must prove that the communication was an unequivocal threat.
Defendant appealed a conviction for stalking. Defendant and the victim were neighbors. Defendant made a series of unwelcome advances, including statements to the victim in an attempt to provoke him to start a fight. Before the fight could begin, the victim’s wife came outside and broke it up. Defendant was arrested and convicted of stalking under ORS 163.732. The statute requires the State to prove that there were repeated contacts, meaning at least two. However, the State had only proven that the statements occurred on one occasion. Additionally, where the charged conduct is purely communicative in nature, as here, the State must prove that the communication was a threat in order to save the statute from being an unconstitutional restriction on speech. At the close of the State's case, Defendant motioned for judgment of acquittal. The trial court denied Defendant's motion and he was convicted of stalking. Defendant appealed. The Court held that the State did not prove that Defendant's conduct amounted to an unequivocal threat. Reversed.