Oregon (2003/2018)

OR. REV. STAT. § 163.187. STRANGULATION [Effective January 1, 2019]

(1) A person commits the crime of strangulation if the person knowingly impedes the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by:

(a) Applying pressure on the throat, neck or chest of the other person; or

(b) Blocking the nose or mouth of the other person

(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to legitimate medical or dental procedures or good faith practices of a religious belief.

(3 ) Strangulation is a Class A misdemeanor.

(4) Notwithstanding subsection (3) of this section, strangulation is a Class C felony if:

(a) The crime is committed in the immediate presence of, or is witnessed by, the person’s or the victim’s minor child or stepchild or a minor child residing within the household of the person or the victim;

(b) The victim is under 10 years of age;

(c) The victim is a family or household member, as defined in ORS 135.230, of the person;

(d) During the commission of the crime, the person used, attempted to use or threatened to use a dangerous or deadly weapon, as those terms are defined in ORS 161.015, unlawfully against another;

(e) The person has been previously convicted of violating this section or ORS 163.160, 163.165, 163.175, 163.175, 163.185, or 163.90, or of committing an equivalent crime in another jurisdiction, and the victim in the previous conviction is the same person who is the victim of the current crime;

(f) The person has at least three previous convictions for violating this section or ORS 163.160, 163.165, 163.175, 163.175, 163.185, or 163.90 or for committing an equivalent crime in another jurisdiction, in any combination; or

(g) The person commits the strangulation knowing that the victim is pregnant.

(5) For purposes of subsection (4)(a) of this section, a strangulation is witnessed if the strangulation is seen or directly perceived in any other manner by the child.

(6 )The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission shall classify strangulation committed under the circumstances described in subsection (4)(c) of this section as crime category 5 of the sentencing guidelines grid of the commission.

State v. Hendricks, 273 Or.App. 1 (2015, Oregon)

In State v. Hendricks, 273 Or.App. 1 (2015, Oregon). The trial court found up to five seconds of continuous pressure was sufficient.  Defendant repeatedly covered the victim’s face with a pillow momentarily cutting off her ability to breathe. During one incident,  he forcefully covered her face with the pillow for about five seconds while simultaneously pinning her against the wall. Defendant was also threatening to kill her and the victim believed she was going to die.  On appeal, Defendant claimed there was no proof that the victim suffered any physical injury within the meaning of the statute. He also claimed that the prosecutor should be required to prove more than just blocking a person’s nose and mouth.  The state argued that any impairment of the ability of the body to function in a normal manner for any amount of time constituted impairment. The involuntary cessation of breathing – a vital bodily function in and of itself constitutes the requires impairment. The trial court agreed that the “physical injury” component of the statute has no durational requirement and the victim’s testimony provided sufficient evidence of impairment. The appellate court also refused to pronounce a principled distinction between one second, three seconds or even five. The respiratory function, like the cardiac function, is existential – essential for life.

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