What is a “fee” in a (ORS 167.700) transaction for sexual conduct or contact? A Cigarette? A Kiss?

What happens in Oregon when a word in a statute is undefined – and someone’s life and liberty is at stake?

In the case of 2011 ORS 167.007 and Oregon v. Palomo, the Oregon Court of Appeals weighs in and defines the word “fee,” with a little help from a dictionary and a legislative history.

Oregon v. Palomo A148047 (Control), A148045

“…Based on that incident, defendant was charged with prostitution, ORS 167.007(1)(a), and tried by the court.3 10 ORS 167.007(1)(a) provides that a person commits prostitution when the “person engages in, or offers or agrees to engage in, sexual conduct or sexual contact in return for a fee.” The word “fee” is not defined in the statutory scheme….” [Link to full opinion.]

Note: Compiling an Oregon legislative history is a lengthy, complex research process and, unless you can get to the State Archives in person and read the bill files, or have the money to pay Archives to scan the files, or are lucky enough that someone before you asked the Archives to scan the files ….. Well, suffice it to say that I’ve seen grown lawyers cry when faced with having to compile a legislative history – no, you can’t compile a thorough one from online resources only.