Municipal Court Update

An interesting legal issue came up in Municipal Court. When city prosecutors accuse someone of committing a crime, they have to give them a document called a “criminal complaint.” It’s supposed to tell them what law they broke and how they broke it. Due to the high volume of cases churning through the system, however, some complaints inevitably slip through without any details about when, where, or how the alleged crime was committed. Whoops! If a judge dismisses such a complaint, does ORS 135.753 bar future prosecutions for the same offense?

Spoiler: No. ORS 135.753 provides that an order dismissing a class B or C misdemeanor, as provided in ORS 135.703 to 135.709 (civil compromise) and 135.745 to 135.757 (speedy trial), is a bar to another prosecution for the same crime. In State v. Goakey, 47 Or. App. 31 (1980), the Court of Appeals pointed out the obvious. Dismissals based on insufficiency of the accusatory instrument are not a bar to successive prosecutions.

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