Maine takes domestic violence extremely seriously. As a result, sentencing can be especially harsh. Nonetheless, as with any crime, the State must prove the elements of the offense beyond all reasonable doubt to get a conviction.
William H. Ashe, a respected criminal defense attorney in Maine, will argue a strong case on your behalf, casting doubt on guilt. Provided below is an overview of what must be proved in domestic violence cases in Maine and what defense may be employed. Remember, each case is different according to the facts and circumstances. If you have additional questions or want to start building a strong defense today, contact the Law Offices of William H. Ashe to learn more about his approach to criminal defense and how he may help you in your specific case.
What are the elements of domestic violence assault in Maine?
In Maine, anyone charged with assault can also have the added element of domestic violence when the alleged victims qualify as a family or household member. Assault, according to Title 17-A §207, occurs when a person:
- intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly
- causes bodily injury or offensive physical contact
- to another person.
A bruise or other visible signs of an assault are not necessary for the commission of the crime. If a person shoves or bumps into another person offensively can satisfy the elements required of assault. To be a domestic violence assault, the alleged offender must have committed that assault, according to 17-A §207A, against a family or household member.
Title 19-A §4002(4) defines family or household members as:
- current or former spouses or domestic partners
- current or former roommates
- current or former intimate partners or persons who engage(d) in a sexual relationship
- biological parents of a child
- Minor children of a household member when the alleged offender is an adult household member
- adult household members related by blood or marriage.
What are the penalties in Maine of a domestic violence conviction?
Penalties in Maine are based on the offense and its classification as a misdemeanor or felony. There are also other consequences to a domestic violence penalty that often apply regardless of the classification of the offense.
Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Sentencing
Domestic violence assault is typically a Class D misdemeanor. Penalties for this crime classification include:
- a fine up to $2,000
- a jail sentence up to one year
- probation up to two years (17-A §1201)
- participation in a 48-week Batterers Intervention education program (17-A §1204).
Felony Domestic Violence Sentencing
Domestic violence assault is enhanced to a Class C felony when the alleged offender has a prior conviction within the last ten years – according to 17-A §9-A. The convictions that qualify as an enhancer include any of the following:
- Domestic violence assault 17-A §207-A
- Domestic violence criminal threatening 17-A §209-A.
- Domestic violence terrorizing, 17-A §210-B.
- Domestic violence stalking, 17-A §210-C.
- Domestic violence reckless conduct, 17-A §211-A.
- Violating a Protection from Abuse order 19-A § 4011.
If an alleged offender was convicted of similar charges in another state, then that would count also as a prior conviction.
Domestic violence assault can be charged as a Class C felony when the alleged offender violated conditions of release per 15 §1092 1(B). In this scenario, the defendant is on bail for domestic violence and violated the condition of bail by either (1) contacting the alleged victim; or (2) possessing a firearm.
A Class C felony conviction can result in the following penalties:
- a fine up to $5,000
- a prison sentence up to five years
- probation up to two years
Other Consequences to a Domestic Violence Conviction
There are other consequences of a domestic violence assault conviction. Important consequences that can be life-changing include the following:
- You can face problems with child custody if you currently have shared custody or want to pursue custody.
- Anyone convicted of domestic violence (misdemeanor or felony) in Maine is prohibited from ever possessing firearms or ammunition for the rest of his or her life. A violation can result in a federal crime.
- If you were convicted of felony domestic violence, you can lose your right to vote.
- If you were convicted of felony domestic violence, you may face particular difficulty finding employment or good housing.
There are many other collateral consequences of a conviction just by the mere existence of a criminal record. These consequences are worth considering as reason to fight a charge of domestic violence assault in Maine.
Are there defenses in Maine to a domestic violence assault case?
You should never plead guilty at an arraignment because that denies you your right to fight the criminal charges against you. In domestic violence cases, there are defenses that may apply in your specific case. These defenses include:
- Self-Defense. If you were defending yourself against another person's use of physical force, you have a defense in Maine. When self-defense is raised, the prosecutor will have to prove that your conduct was not self-defense.
- Witness Credibility. Was the alleged victim motivated to lie about the domestic violence? For example, is there a custody case pending or did the alleged offender and victim recently breakup? Given the close relationships those involved in domestic violence share, there are often reasons an alleged victim will lie or create a story, and if his or her credibility is questioned, that casts doubt on the alleged domestic violence.
- Factual Dispute. In these cases, it is often one person's word against another person's word. Who really struct who first? Was the physical force intentional or incidental to another activity? Guilt can boil down to the small details of these types of cases.
Even when there isn't a specific defense, a good attorney will develop a strong defense strategy to help you get the best outcome possible in your case.
Contact an Aggressive, Smart Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Maine Today
Domestic violence charges are deeply personal and emotional. Getting aggressive yet compassionate legal representation can be fundamental to fighting the charges without undue stress. William H. Ashe, a reputable criminal defense lawyer in Maine, will provide a strong and thoughtful defense. Contact his law office online or at 207-615-1344 to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how he can help you fight domestic violence charges.