The Oregon legislature will begin its 2014 session on Monday, February 3, 2014.
At that time, House Bill (HB) 4089 is scheduled to be introduced at the request of the House Interim Committee on Judiciary. If passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by the governor in the same form it is introduced, HB 4089 would limit the revocation sanction that a defendant could receive to 60 days if the defendant was received a presumptive probation sentence and committed a technical violation of his probation, such as missing a class or failing to make a payment to the court or a treatment provider: “If the defendant was sentenced to a presumptive period of probation, the court may not impose a term of incarceration that exceeds 60 days as a revocation sanction unless the revocation is the result of the defendant’s conviction for a new crime.”
In other words, if a defendant’s presumptive sentence for a particular offense according to the felony sentencing guidelines grid is a term of probation, and the defendant’s probation is later revoked for a technical violation (as opposed to the commission of a new crime), then the longest revocation sanction the defendant could receive is 60 days in jail. Limiting the revocation sanction for non-criminal violations encourages judges to extend probation and continue pushing the probationer to complete treatment and make payments, instead of simply revoking probation and sending the probationer to jail. That encouragement saves the state and county money that would otherwise be spent housing probation violators. It also gives defendants a chance to stay out of custody, complete treatment, maintain employment, care for their families, and show that they can be successful on probation.
Unfortunately, if passed in its current form, HB 4089 would only apply to crimes committed on or after the date HB 4089 is passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor. As currently written, it would not apply to people currently on probation. The legislature could amend the bill, however, to apply to people currently on probation.
If you or someone you know is on probation and struggling to pay fines and complete treatment, you should call or write your state senator and representative and encourage them to support HB 4089. If you or someone you know is currently dealing with a probation violation, remember that probation violations are serious and can involve substantial prison time. As a result, you should contact an attorney experienced in handling probation violations as soon as possible.