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Law defines seriousness of crimes

Since you asked

I noticed in the Emergency Services section of the Jan. 5 paper that the bail set for an arrest on two counts of rape, two counts of sodomy and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor was less than bail set for delivering, manufacturing and possessing marijuana. Bail for the sex crimes was &

36;24,000 while &

36;55,000 was imposed in the marijuana case.

I don't understand how a rapist gets less bail than someone who sells marijuana. The rapist has mentally damaged two people for the rest of their lives. I am disgusted at the court system, and I think someone needs to realize that rape is worse than selling marijuana!

' Noah W., Ashland

Because there are several legal definitions of rape in Oregon, we researched the specific case to which you were referring. In this circumstance, the suspect was arrested on charges of third-degree rape and third-degree sodomy.

Both crimes involve unforced sexual relations with a person under 16 years of age. These acts are defined as Class C felonies, the state's least serious felony category.

By contrast, delivery of marijuana is in the next highest criminal category of Class B felonies. So it would appear in this particular instance that selling marijuana is legally more serious than rape.

Although Oregon law dictates the seriousness of a crime, it does not determine bail except for the most violent offenses defined under Measure 11, said Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Bill Purdy. Judges consider many factors, including the crime itself, a person's criminal history, track record of showing up for court dates, employment situation and family ties in the area, Purdy said.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to . We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.