MultCo DA’s Office won’t prosecute some protest-related charges

2020 Protests

Schmidt: Racial disparities becoming commonplace 'not OK'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced Tuesday his office would not prosecute certain crimes stemming from the ongoing nightly protests.

The cases the office said it would not prosecute are ones where the most serious offense is a city ordinance violation or where the crime(s) do not involve deliberate property damage, theft or the use or threat of force against another person. Such crimes include:

  • Interfering with a peace officer or parole and probation officer (ORS 162.247)
  • Disorderly conduct in the second degree (ORS 166.025)
  • Criminal trespass in the first and second degree (ORS 164.245 & ORS 164.255)
  • Escape in the third degree (ORS 162.145)
  • Harassment  (ORS 166.065)
  • Riot (166.015) – Unless accompanied by a charge outside of this list.

The office added that the charges of “Resisting arrest” (ORS 162.315) and “Assaulting a public safety officer” (ORS 163.208) will be subjected to the highest level of scrutiny by the deputy district attorney reviewing the arrest. 

Schmidt said that when a person is charged with a misdemeanor or felony crime that causes only financial harm during a protest, there will be a presumption that the individual will either be offered conditional dismissal after restitution is paid to the victim or when other amends to the community are made, such as restorative justice with the impacted victim. Crimes in this category include:

  • Criminal mischief in the second and third degree (ORS 164.345 & ORS 164.354)
    • When the value is under $1,000
  • Theft in the first, second and third degree (ORS 164.043, ORS 164.045 & ORS 164.055)
    • When the value is under $1,000 or when the theft is committed during a riot
  • Burglary in the second degree if combined with any criminal mischief or theft allegation.

All other offenses–including those that allege acts of intentional physical violence against community members and/or law enforcement–will be handled according to general office policies, according to Schmidt.

“I want to make it very clear though,” Schmidt said at a press conference Monday. “This is not a free pass.”

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell issued a response Tuesday afternoon to the DA’s new policy, writing in part, “The goal for the Portland Police Bureau is to maintain the peace and promote public safety. As DA Schmidt said today, his policy does not change the law, nor does it say his office will tolerate damage to property or deliberate violence against police or anyone else.”

Lovell added that, whether or not the DA decides to charge cases PPB sends to his office, the bureau “will continue to do the job the community expects” of it.

Previous story

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt is slated to announce a new protest policy Tuesday.

Schmidt, along with guest speakers, will outline changes aimed to improve interactions between law enforcement and protesters.

The 39-year-old DA began his tenure on August 3 following the retirement of former DA Rod Underhill.

Schmidt previously said, “We have let racial disparities become commonplace and that is not OK,” in regards to the message sparking ongoing protests in Portland. He added he would listen to what the community had to say about law enforcement practices and would use his office to put those changes into practice.

Remarks from Schmidt come on the heels of the 74th night of protesting in Portland. To date there have been about 550 arrests stemming from the nightly protests.

KOIN 6 will stream Schmidt’s press conference at 10:30 a.m.

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