I did an AMA a few months back, and got a huge response. Link here.

There were plenty of questions that came in via private messages, and plenty of ongoing interest, it seems, so I wanted to pop up again and see if I could answer any questions you all have now.

I just finished a trial this week (theft/arson case), and was writing a motion for a case this evening. My office is closed tomorrow, so I have plenty of time to answer questions. Ask away. I'll try to get to everything.

Some of the FAQs from the last IAMA:

Q: How much do I make? A: It varies month to month based on the number of new clients and their ability to pay, and year to year, but ~100-120k

Q: What kind of cases do I handle? A: Probably 40-50% drug cases, 20-30% DUI, 10-15% property crime, and 10-15% violent offenses.

Q: Where did I go to law school? A: A very good law school; a top tier, but not super-elite school.

Verification from the last AMA here.

EDIT -- sorry all, had something come up this morning that I needed to handle, but I'm back and answering questions as best I can -- typing furiously now.

Comments: 976 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

fallsuspect103 karma

Do you know any lawyers that are like Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad? Sleazy and infomercial-type kinda lawyers? and what do you think of lawyers like that?

oregonlawyer192 karma

Sure. I read somewhere recently, I can't remember where exactly, that advertising is a tax you pay on not being very good at what you do. Obviously that's a pretty sweeping statement that isn't true in all cases, but it's true in a lot of instances in the legal field. I have met plenty of lawyers who I would never hire to represent me were I ever facing criminal charges.

JudgeWhoAllowsStuff21 karma


oregonlawyer3 karma

It's abnormal for someone to come to me prior to committing a crime, but it's not unheard of.

pistonsnick76 karma

What do you think of those you are defending that you are sure have completed a heinous crime, but then are acquitted? Do you feel bad that a probably guilty, destructive person is out on the streets due* to your good work?


oregonlawyer114 karma

I can count on one hand, and I frankly don't need all my fingers, the number of times I've had someone who I believed was guilty of committing a heinous crime actually end up being acquitted of all charges.

The more common result is that someone gets charged with something like aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and they end up being convicted of assault; or someone gets charged with attempted murder, and they end up being convicted of something like attempted manslaughter.

In those instances, I generally believe that justice has been served and that the sentence for the crimes for which my clients were convicted, more often than not end up fitting.

Remmy1469 karma

I have a friend who is a Criminal Defense Attorney, and we asked him the same question. He just responds by saying, "I try to make sure they don't get the death penalty for robbing a gas station." Is that similar to how you feel?

oregonlawyer8 karma

That's a good way of putting it.

BetweenJobs44 karma

attempted manslaughter

Is that when you attempt to accidentally kill someone?

oregonlawyer6 karma

Generally speaking attempted manslaughter results from injuring someone (short of murder) in the heat of passion.

HappyGerbil8864 karma


oregonlawyer16 karma

Yes. It happened once, and the case got overturned thankfully on appeal. The year or so he spent in custody was pretty rough on him and his family, and me for that matter.

Pumpkin198248 karma

3L here. Do you need a summer intern?

oregonlawyer29 karma

Message me privately.

ribbitmeow41 karma

Most rewarding part of your job? Favorite kind of cases to work? Do you think drugs should be illegal?

oregonlawyer110 karma

Most rewarding part of my job is an easy question to answer. A lot of people come to me after having made bad decisions that were borne out of desperation, be it familial, financial, or otherwise. Working through the system to ensure that these people's futures aren't horrifically damaged, and then seeing them come out on the other side of criminal charges with an opportunity to put a bad decision behind them and not have it limit their possibilities is a really rewarding scenario.

I don't know that I have a favorite type of case, because each case presents different obstacles and opportunities. I think generally my successes in drug cases make them interesting ones to take on.

I go back and forth on this question. What I never waiver on is that I think a lot of drugs should be legal in limited quantities. I also strongly believe that the system could do a better job dealing with those convicted of drug offenses to get them help and move them out of a system that can sometimes seem like a revolving door.

moonbeam2040 karma

What is the weirdest case you have worked on?

oregonlawyer75 karma

Answered this in the last AMA, and I think it probably depends on your definition of weird.

The TL;DR version is that I represented an individual who hired an escort to come to his motel room and watch fetish pornography with him while he told her about his interests/fetishes, and then he paid her for her time with a combination of drugs and cash. Weird, weird fella, and weird, weird story.

jayadrath25 karma

Why was he indicted?

oregonlawyer119 karma

He gave drugs to someone as payment for services rendered. That's kind of sort of a no-no.

johncipriano51 karma

How did he get caught? Did the prostitute just rock up to the police station one day and go "hey hey, this guy paid me with some wack dope, yo. Put his ass in jail"?

oregonlawyer25 karma

Prostitute got scared by his fetishes and contacted the police.

NZupvoter39 karma

How does it feel defending an obviously guilty person? Trying to get the scum of the earth off the hook?

oregonlawyer106 karma

Legitimate question. I have control over what cases I take and what cases I pass on, so there's a bit of a slant to my answer that doesn't apply to the legal profession as a whole.

Most people know they're guilty if they're guilty. But most people I represent are guilty of something far short of what they're charged. I can point to numerous occasions when I've represented someone who was guilty of trespass but was charged with burglary. In a case like that, I don't feel bad representing someone who's obviously guilty of trespass and having them ultimately be acquitted of burglary.

jayadrath34 karma

Have you ever been threatened or come to physical harm?

oregonlawyer56 karma

I've never had a client threaten me directly to the point where I was scared for my well-being. I fight hard for all of my clients, and I make it a point to treat each and every one of them like a human being and to respect them, and I think that results in a lot more courteous reaction from them. And I've never suffered any physical harm related to my job.

cock-a-doodle-doo22 karma

My brother's best man is a divorce lawyer for an extremely well regarded city law firm in London. He deals almost exclusively with divorces between hugely rich Russian oligarchs and their (often beautiful) wives.

About a year ago he was working on a case involving such a powerful and sinister individual he wrote a sealed letter to my brother and left it in my brothers possession to be opened should something happen to him. It outlines who he's been working for and why exactly he was so concerned for his well-being.

The letter sits in a locked box in my brothers house to this day. It will likely never be opened and will be burned, though I imagine it contains some pretty damaging information.

Kind of cool.

EDIT: spelling

oregonlawyer15 karma

That is a really cool story.

NoNeedForAName12 karma

In my experience, you're more likely to be at risk of harm with civil cases. I've never had anyone threaten me or otherwise with regard to a criminal case, but with civil cases (especially family law) my small office has at least a few people a year try to barge in and threaten to kick our asses and whatnot. One of our lawyers actually got punched during a deposition in a divorce case several years back.

oregonlawyer8 karma

Definitely. There's a reason I don't touch family law. Best wishes to you and your practice.

jayadrath33 karma

Have you handled cases involving the drug cartel of Mexico?

oregonlawyer45 karma

There are plenty of different cartels in Mexico, but yes, I've handled cases involving people involved with Mexican drug cartels.

jayadrath24 karma

How dangerous are they?

oregonlawyer52 karma

In Mexico, they're ruthless, and I've heard horrific stories from past clients. In the United States, far less dangerous because of the fact that law enforcement here is frankly far better, and the threat of capture, prosecution, and imprisonment is far greater than the threat of a similar response in Mexico.

jayadrath25 karma

What kind of stories did you hear?Any examples?

oregonlawyer36 karma

Nothing too terribly different from what gets reported in the mainstream media in the US -- kidnappings, mass killings, extortion, bribery of public officials, etc.

ribbitmeow13 karma

Biggest dealer you've represented? Biggest dealer you've heard of that got probation or light sentence?

oregonlawyer18 karma

Multiple thousand pounds of marijuana that were seized.

There isn't enough space on the internet to answer your second questions. I could regale you with hundreds of instances where defendants were convicted or pled to an amended charge that resulted in a far more lenient sentence than the quantity of narcotics they were involved in trafficking merited.

ribbitmeow21 karma

Thanks for doing these AMA's...thinking I might be interested in doing this for a living. Everyone says law school is a horrible investment and there's no jobs these days, is there still room for inexperienced people doing criminal defense?

I saw in your old AMA stuff about long-term wiretaps. How common are these for drug investigations? Just the kingpins making millions? Have they started using facebook very frequently for investigations yet?

oregonlawyer28 karma

I'd say law school is worth doing if you're absolutely certain you want to practice law and you aren't going to be coming out of school with an insane debt burden.

People gain experience doing criminal defense quickly. I know plenty of people who started out in a 2-3 person firm and after 12-24 months decided to go out on their own, and have made great careers for themselves.

Long-term wiretaps oftentimes get targeted at people the government thinks are kingpins, but often end up catching lower-level dealers and buyers, because a lot of the big players are smart enough not to get caught up in a lot of that, or they have other people doing their dirty work.

Generally speaking, I use facebook more often than the State, but I've absolutely seen cases where the State has facebook posts effectively.

ribbitmeow11 karma

How much do prosecutors actually know about who's who in the drug game? Most genius/ dumbest schemes you have ever seen?

oregonlawyer27 karma

Most prosecutors know largely what the police tell them, and not much more. They don't have a ton of time to be investigating crime. A lot of the police officers that I've met are quite knowledgable at what's going on at the street level.

Most of the cases I take don't emanate from "schemes" per se, in that most of my clients are charged with one-time offenses that they didn't really plan out. I have seen some pretty elaborate schemes though -- such as clients replacing their phone every two-three weeks for fear of having it tapped (which is really annoying when you have to correspond with them).

TheRileyss21 karma

Do you get to yell OBJECTION from the top of your lungs?

oregonlawyer39 karma

No...(insert sad panda)

ribbitmeow15 karma

What's the typical sentence for drug distributors? Do most snitch? How much does being an informant help peoples sentences? Do people still get in trouble for weed in Oregon?

oregonlawyer22 karma

The typical sentence varies based upon the person's criminal history, the type of drug, the amount of the drug, and other factors. I've seen drug sentences ranging from probation to multiple decades. For a first time offender, often drug offenses can result in probation sentences, and/or minimal jail time. It also depends on the jurisdiction you're in, and how common of a crime narcotics trafficking is.

A significant majority of my clients are not interested in being a snitch or an informant.

Being an informant can help if the client has actionable information that leads generally to multiple people far higher up on the food chain than themselves.

Large quantities of weed, yes.

togthr6 karma

What's a large quantity?

oregonlawyer4 karma

Depending on the jurisdiction something in excess of 50 pounds of MJ. Lesser weights for harder drugs.

jayadrath15 karma

What is the worst sentence one can receive for DUI?

oregonlawyer27 karma

Depends on the state, and on the person's record of previous DUIs. Assuming the defendant didn't hit anything/anyone and you didn't cause any injury/death, there are states that have such a thing as extreme, or super extreme DUI that can result in felony prison time.

YourPostsAreBad36 karma

super extreme DUI

they couldn't come up with some legaly words for this? did they name the law during take-your-child-to-work day?

oregonlawyer6 karma

Well, I can't speak for all states, but some states have legislators that make you question their sanity.

Ktone1311 karma

Willamette or Lewis and Clark?

oregonlawyer18 karma

Went to school out of state. Ended up practicing a couple of other places before coming to Oregon.

Ktone138 karma

Alright, Real cool man. I'm an aspiring law student but hoping to get into the prosecution side of litigation. Good luck with your endeavors, my friend!

oregonlawyer31 karma

Best of luck to you as well. We need good people on both sides of the courtroom.

brokenscope10 karma

As an idealistic young lad I took the LSAT during my undergrad and scored in the 90th percentile.

However because of money and other problems, law school wasn't in the cards. I've since graduated, found a good job.

At this point, I'm obligated to stay with my current company till shortly after I turn 29.

I'm fairly confident that I could score as well, if not better on the LSAT, than I did when I was an irresponsible dumbass kid.

Do I stand any chance of getting admitted to a decent law school and and being able to start a law career or has that boat pretty much sailed because of my age?

oregonlawyer11 karma

Totally! When I was in law school, the number of 30+ students was pretty close to that of the < 30 students.

Sgt_45Bravo9 karma

I have a cousin that graduated from Harvard, took the BAR the first time and failed. Multiple people told her that this happens, but she refuses to try again. Any advice for trying to inspire her to try taking the BAR again?

oregonlawyer12 karma

I have multiple colleagues that tried and failed multiple times before passing a bar exam. These people are veritable, good, professional people, and they just for whatever reason took a few tries to pass. They're great lawyers now, and nobody cares, or frankly knows, that they didn't pass the first time (or second time) around.

El_Mono_Rojo8 karma

How do feel when you're able to get a dismissal due to a technical flaw, i.e. a perceived Brady violation or slight mishandling of evidence? Is a win a win or do you see it as "the prosecutor should have done his job better"?

oregonlawyer16 karma

When I win on "technicalities" I see it two ways: one, technicalities exist because of the system we've set up to ensure everyone is treated fairly, and without them, the system would break down, and two, more often than not, if the client I've just freed on a technicality keeps breaking the law, he'll be caught, and there won't be a technical violation to save him the second time around.

BaltiMoreHarder8 karma

I was a heroin addict living in Baltimore for years. I have been working on sobriety the past few years, but I came out of everything with a few misdemeanor possession charges, and an intent to distrubute charge. A few of them are on probation before judgement, but what can I do to either make the rest go away, or at least make them invisible/harder to find for potential employers? Any tips?

oregonlawyer10 karma

Once you've completed all of your probation, find a lawyer who will work with you to get your convictions set aside. It'll cost you probably 1k or so, but it'll be worth every penny.

anonymouslives8 karma

Is it true that the best advice you could give, besides not to commit a crime, is not to talk to the police, ever?! That's, if you're in any way possibly connected to a crime that has been committed. Obviously talk to the police if a crime has been committed against you, or you witnessed a crime against someone else.

oregonlawyer7 karma

Generally you're spot on. Anything good you say in your defense to police is going to be excluded at trial by the doctrine of self-serving hearsay.

jordanb3578 karma

From what I understand, if pulled over for a DUI you can refuse a breathalyzer. The same source, (I think it was an ACLU video) said that if you are arrested and brought back to the station, at that point refusing a breathalyzer may have consequences / charges. It seems odd that you can't be charged for refusing it out in the 'field', but you can if you're taken back to the station. Any idea why that is?

Also.. what is your impression of the Supreme Court case being heard now concerning warrantless blood tests in DUI cases?

Link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=168957879

oregonlawyer4 karma

There's a difference between refusing a preliminary breath test (PBT) and refusing a breathalyzer (actual breath test).

That supreme court case could have really far-ranging impacts on the criminal justice system.

psykocrime8 karma

Have you ever been involved in a case where the jury clearly exercised Jury Nullification?

How do you personally feel about Jury Nullification?

Even if prohibited from mentioning Nullification directly (as is the case in many courts, as I understand it) have you ever tried to subtly hint to the jury that they can, indeed, return a finding based on their own moral beliefs about what is equitable, and not a strict adherence to the law as written?

Do you often talk to jurors after a trial, to see what they were thinking and what influenced their decision one way or the other? If so, what's the most surprising thing you've found out from doing that?

oregonlawyer11 karma

Yea, a couple of times. I can remember one specific case where I had a client who was very likable and relatable, charged with DUI for "driving" a vehicle a few hundred feet in order to have her roommate, who was sober, drive them home.

Jury acquitted within an hour.

Nullification is a powerful thing, but it probably happens less often than people make it out to occur.

banjo_077 karma

I'm currently filling out my law school applications. For the character and fitness section, I need to disclose that I was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia quite a few years back. The charges were subsequently diverted and are completely off of my record, however from my research I still need to fully disclose any interactions with law enforcement.

My question to you is: what is the best way for me to word this encounter, that would look most favorable to the admissions council? I was considering: "I was arrested for suspicion of possession of marijuana....of which the charges were subsequently diverted" Is this dishonest?

Also, do you know how this would impact my chances at being accepted? I understand that you're not involved with the academia aspect of the legal field, I just figured it couldn't hurt -- and I'm incredibly nervous about it. (For the 2011 class for the school I want to apply to, my LSAT score is just above the 75th percentile for the class, my GPA is just below median.) Thanks a bunch in advance!

oregonlawyer7 karma

I was young, and made a stupid mistake. Be honest about it, and be forthcoming. The worst thing you can do is to minimize your responsibility and have them find out more later.

I doubt something like simple possession + paraphernalia would have much of an adverse impact.

qazzzz6 karma

I just had a question that I wondered if you knew the answer too. I heard this on Reddit a long time ago and so I wanted to see if it is true or not. A guy said that he owned a home and had his girlfriend living with him at the time. Eventually they had somewhat of a fallout and so he asked her to pack and leave before he got back home the next day from work. When he came back the next day he found out that all his locks were changed and that she basically invited her new boyfriend into his home and did not allow him to go in and kick them out. He spoke with the officials and for some odd reason, even though he had proof that he was the owner of the home, they said they couldn't help him out.

What I wanted to know is, is all of that possible? Can the police really do nothing, and if not what CAN you actually do legally?

oregonlawyer4 karma

I'm not an expert in property law, but that sounds pretty fishy.

java_guy6 karma


oregonlawyer9 karma

Don't be a dick to a cop for no reason. That said, saying "yea, I was going 60 in a 40" is a surefire way of getting a ticket. Be courteous, be professional, and be respectful.

alexanderwales6 karma

What's the best way to get away with murder?

oregonlawyer22 karma

Don't do it?

RoughTP5 karma

Do you think James Holmes is guilty?

oregonlawyer12 karma

Of course he is guilty of the act of commuting murder. Whether he's legally culpable is another story. That said, the more I hear about his intense planning, the less I believe he was insane.

RoughTP5 karma

Thank you for your response. Most of what I read is on Wiki and believe he is guilty as well. However, my wife and her friends are questioning things because apparently there is a conspiracy theory out there that he didn't act alone and that the government is attempting to cover some things up. What do you think about that and the Sandy Hook Hoax video that is out there? How can I prove to them they are being duped?

oregonlawyer10 karma

You can't prove to someone that they're being duped. If they want to believe in conspiracies, let 'em. Just don't listen to them.

ksp18845 karma

I got carjacked at gunpoint in November2011 one suspect testified against the other One got q 5 year jail sentence an the other is still waiting trial. Is there anyway I can get composition?

oregonlawyer8 karma

Probably not likely. You can have restitution ordered through the sentencing judge, but collecting on that would be difficult.

farmerfound5 karma

A friend of mine is a prosecutor and he tells me that for them they gauge a win to be where they get a conviction. For the public defenders in his area, they call it a win if they don't get the maximum sentence. Which, from what he tells me, they both have "win ratio's" of about 80%

Long story short, what metric do you use to determine your "win ratio"? Or is yours the same as theirs?

oregonlawyer8 karma

I ask my client, initially, what it is they want and expect out of my representation of them. If I can get that result, or better, I call that a win.

Obviously some people have unreasonable expectations, and I try to avoid doing business with them.

joggle15 karma

Is there any sort of legal obligation for a prosecutor to keep their side of a plea deal?

I know a guy who was told by his lawyer that a plea with the prosecutor on paying back child support had been worked out that would not have required any jail time. When the guy showed up to court, a different prosecutor appeared, claiming the one the plea had been worked out with was sick for the day. The new prosecutor claimed that there was no plea deal and sent him to jail. His lawyer claimed there was nothing he could do.

oregonlawyer9 karma

Well, once a deal is signed, it obligates all parties. Before that, it's more of a professional reputation / professional courtesy thing to hold up your end.

Marylandman1014 karma

have you ever had someone that you knew was guilty and you considered throwing the case on purpose?

oregonlawyer5 karma

No. Generally if they know they were guilty, they want a plea.

Dieon_Rifkin3 karma


oregonlawyer3 karma

I have opened my own firm several times, and it's hard at first, but once you're 12-18 months in, referrals will take care of you.

angrycyclist2 karma

I sat on a jury for a domestic violence case. After finding a not guilty verdict, we spoke with the prosecution who said these cases are usually very difficult to prosecute.

Similarly, Is there a type of case that is in general very difficult to defend?

oregonlawyer3 karma

Any case involving wiretap evidence is really difficult to defend because you can have multiple hundreds of hours of tapes to review to try to find something meaningful in defense of a client.

BluePinky2 karma

Do you find that the DA's normally play by the book? Have you had cases where you can see the DA really wants to get someone convicted even though he's obviously innocent? I guess what I'm asking is, have you seen DA's knowingly bend the rules and law to get someone unfairly convicted?

oregonlawyer3 karma

Most DAs are good, honest, hard working people. I've seen a few particular cases where a DA was overzealous and it ultimately worked either against them, or against the interests of justice.

bluntlegger2 karma

Do you take many court-appointed cases? If so, what is your experience dealing with them? I've heard that sometimes it's difficult to get an appointee to trust the lawyer. How do you deal with this?

(edit: spelling & grammar)

oregonlawyer3 karma

I did earlier in my career, but not much anymore.

ProllyaRepost2 karma

What are basic laws and rights everyone should know?

oregonlawyer3 karma

You have the right to counsel when being questioned by police, and you have the right to walk away from the police so long as they're not arresting you.

You have the right to leave a traffic stop once the reason for the traffic stop is over. Once you've been given a ticket or a warning, thank the officer and be on your way. Don't chit chat or dilly dally. You don't have to.

Dankgeebus2 karma

Have you ever sincerely felt for a client and reached out to them personally after the trial was done? Has your perception of criminals changed after working with them so much?

oregonlawyer3 karma

Yes. I've gone to the county jail repeatedly to express my sorrow at losing -- it happens -- and more often than not, my client is more thankful for my work than upset at the result.

Most people just want someone to stand up and fight for them, and that's what I do.

m1sterrogers2 karma

Hypothetically, what would be your ideal client or your worst possible client?

oregonlawyer3 karma

Ideal client is someone who tells me the facts, and lets me do my job. Worst possible client is someone who constantly (read, daily / multiple times a day) needs updates on what's going on, what I'm doing, when things are happening. Those requests take me away from actually helping them.

CrapATTACK2 karma

If the person you're defending tells you they're guilty, that they actually committed the crime, do you still defend them and act as though their innocent? Do your morals get in the way, will you drop a client?

oregonlawyer6 karma

Generally speaking, someone's own interpretation of their guilt is meaningless because they're not familiar with the statutes they're accused of violating. Morals do get in the way at times, and I've turned down plenty of cases because of how I felt about a client or a specific crime.

thisnameisnttakenyet2 karma

Do you work for yourself? If so, how do/did you start your own business? Is it similar to Lincoln Lawyer? (sorry I just needed to add that, but is something like lincoln lawyer even remotely realistic?) And, lastly, were you on the prosecution side before you represented defendants?

oregonlawyer3 karma

I do work for myself. I've never seen or read Lincoln lawyer, but it's on the list. I've worked in a prosecutor's office, but for a brief period.