State v. Snodgrass

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 12-20-2022
  • Case #: A175753
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J., for the Court; Powers, J; Hellman, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

The legislative history of ORS 166.070(1)(c) shows that the legislature intended to criminalize spitting on a police officer regardless of whether it contacted the officer's skin directly or merely contacted the officer's clothes.

Appellant was convicted of aggravated harassment when he spat on a police officer’s pants. Appellant assigns error to the denial of his MJOA, arguing that ORS 166.070(1)(c) requirement for physical contact was not satisfied when the defendant’s saliva merely came in contact with an officer’s clothing, but that it required contact with the officer’s actual body, either directly or after soaking through the clothing. The state responded that the legislature intended to generally criminalize the act of spitting on any part of a police officer.

Appellant relied on dictionary definitions of “physical contact”, as well as State v. Keller, 40 Or App 143, 145, 594 P2d 1250 (1979) and State v. Sallinger, 11 Or App 592, 597-98, 504 P2d 1383 (1972) to show that physical contact has historically referred to actual contact with the body. The Court found these arguments unpersuasive, and turned to legislative history to determine that ORS 166.070(1)(c) was intended to include contact with clothes in spite of the concerns of some Representatives during debate. The trial court was not in error to deny the Appellant's MJOA. 


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