Oregon's Complicated Drug Delivery Laws

Article provided by Portland Criminal Defense Lawyer - Kohlmetz, Steen & Hanrahan, P.C, P.C

One of the most frequent complaints regarding Oregon State drug delivery charges is that the suspect never sold or delivered the drugs in question. "How can they charge me with delivery when I never sold anything?" The answer has to do with a tricky and dangerous quirk of Oregon's drug delivery laws.

Oregon law defines "delivery" as the "actual", "constructive", or "attempted" transfer of a controlled substance from one person to another. Problems arise for clients who are charged not with an actual delivery (these cases have their own issues,) but when clients are charged with a "constructive" or "attempted" delivery. Although in Oregon an "attempted" crime is less serious than its completed version, this is not true in drug delivery cases. An attempted delivery is just as serious as an actual delivery.

The question then becomes "What is an attempted delivery?" Oregon law defines an attempt as conduct which amounts to an intentional and substantial step towards the commission of the offense.

Under this reasoning, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver it to someone else can be prosecuted as "Delivery" of a controlled substance. Even more troubling is that evidence of either "possession" or "intent" can be circumstantial. "Possession" itself can be either actual or constructive. Thus, there are any number of ways the state might accuse someone of "delivery" of drugs - even where the client never actually possessed the drugs in question. There is also the question of how the government tries to prove a client's "intent."

Offering to sell someone drugs, without more, could be prosecuted as an attempt and thus as a completed delivery. Asking someone else to get drugs for someone else could also be the basis of a delivery charge. Helping someone else find a drug source, or brokering a deal for someone, could serve as the basis for a full blown delivery prosecution.

The requirements for what might satisfy the legal definition of "delivery," "possession," and "intent" are convoluted and complex and often boil down to an analysis of the specific facts of each case with an eye to determining what can the state can possibly prove beyond a reasonable doubt.