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Oregon v. Stevens

November 10, 1972

STATE OF OREGON, APPELLANT,
v.
MARK ALVIN STEVENS, RESPONDENT



Appeal from Circuit Court, Washington County. Hollie Pihl, Judge. No. 14-415.

John W. Osburn, Solicitor General, Salem, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the brief was Lee Johnson, Attorney General, Salem.

J. Marvin Kuhn, Deputy Public Defender, Salem, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Gary D. Babcock, Public Defender, Salem.

Foley, Judge. Schwab, Chief Judge, and Thornton, Judge.

Foley

Defendant was charged by indictment with the crime of criminal activity in drugs in violation of ORS 167.207. The indictment reads as follows:

"That the said defendant Mark Alvin Stevens on the 25th day of February A.D. 1972, in the said County of Washington, State of Oregon, then and there being, did unlawfully, feloniously and knowingly possess marihuana, a narcotic drug, the said defendant having a previous conviction for a narcotic drug offense, contrary to the statutes * * *."

Defendant demurred to the indictment on the ground that the allegation of the previous drug conviction violates ORS 132.540(1)(f) which states that:

"* * * [T]he indictment shall not contain allegations that the defendant has previously been convicted of the violation of any statute which may subject him to enhanced penalties."

The trial court sustained the demurrer with leave to resubmit the case to the grand jury, and the state appeals.

ORS 167.207 provides that criminal activity in drugs is a Class B felony unless (a) "* * * the conviction is for possession of less than one avoirdupois ounce of marihuana and" (b) "it is the defendant's first conviction for any narcotic or dangerous drug offense * * *." ORS 167.207(3). If both of these mitigating factors are present, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor. If, however, the conviction is for possession of more than one avoirdupois ounce, or the defendant has had a previous conviction for a narcotic or dangerous drug offense, it is a Class B felony. The maximum imprisonment for a Class A misdemeanor is one year. ORS 161.615. The maximum imprisonment for a Class B felony is ten years. ORS 161.605. Thus it is clear that proof of either a previous conviction for a

narcotic or dangerous drug offense or possession of more than one avoirdupois ounce may subject the defendant to greater penalties.

In State v. Bettin/English/Remling, 10 Or App 230, 498 P2d 382, Sup Ct review denied (1972), this court held that an indictment charging a defendant with the crime of possession of marihuana must contain an allegation as to whether the quantity of marihuana claimed to have been possessed was greater or less than one avoirdupois ounce. That decision was based on the proposition that determination of the amount of marihuana possessed is a factual issue within the jury's province and on the defendant's right to know with certainty whether he is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. Bettin did not address itself to the present question of whether previous convictions for narcotic or dangerous drug offenses ...


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