In most states, crimes are categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies. Typically, state laws designate the most severe criminal acts as felonies. Lesser crimes, while still significant, are classified as misdemeanors. Maine takes a fairly unique approach by dividing their criminal acts into five different classes instead.
While you will not find the word “misdemeanor” among these classes, for practical purposes some of these charges are treated as such. They might bring the potential for less severe sentences than with a felony charge, but the consequences could still be significant.
Thankfully, you have the potential to defend yourself against misdemeanor charges in Maine. With the right attorney by your side, you could see the case against you dismissed or the charges reduced. In some cases, your attorney could help you prevail at trial. To learn more about obtaining a favorable outcome in your misdemeanor case, contact the Law Offices of William H. Ashe right away.
Common Misdemeanor Charges in Maine
All told, there are five different categories for criminal charges in Maine. These categories include Class A, B, C, D, and E offenses. Class A offenses carry the steepest penalties, while Class E charges have the lightest potential sentences. Unofficially, Class D and E charges are misdemeanors in Maine.
Maine laws do not provide for many mandatory minimum sentences, and the courts are given leeway with misdemeanor charges. While that does not mean the outcome of these cases will always be favorable, it does mean a skilled attorney could help you avoid serious consequences even when the case against you is strong. The potential penalties you face for a misdemeanor will depend in part on whether you are facing a Class D or Class E crime.
Class D Offenses
Class D offenses are the highest level of misdemeanor charges; they are one step below a felony. Some of the most commonly charged Class D offenses include domestic violence cases. As a baseline, most acts of domestic violence are treated as Class D offense. However, there are a number of ways that could lead the charge to be upgraded to a felony.
Another of the most common Class D offenses involve operating under the influence. In fact, most OUI charges are treated as Class D offenses. You could face a Class D OUI charge for your first or second offense. However, third or subsequent charges are treated as felonies.
There are other charges that are also treated as Class D offenses, including charges of possessing a small amount of marijuana plants. For a better understanding of these potential charges, speak with a Maine misdemeanors attorney right away.
Class E Offenses
Class E charges are the lowest level of criminal offenses available in Maine. These offenses should be treated seriously, particularly by anyone without a criminal record. A criminal conviction of any kind could wreak havoc on your life and career for years. Some of the assorted charges that fall into Class E include:
- Driving on a suspended license
- Disorderly conduct
- Criminal trespass
- Public intoxication
Facing these charges without an experienced attorney is never in your best interest. To get the most out of your defense, call attorney William H. Ashe right away.
Because of the wide array of potential misdemeanor charges, there are countless examples of how these crimes could occur.
Example #1: First-Offense OUI
You are headed home after a night at the bar. Despite having a few drinks, you assume you are fine to drive. When a police officer pulls out behind you and notices you have a tail light out, he quickly becomes suspicious after smelling alcohol on your breath. You refuse a breathalyzer and ultimately face OUI charges. Because it is your first offense, it is treated as a Class D misdemeanor.
Example #2: Driving without a License
You are driving home after work. When a police officer notices your brake light is out, he pulls you over and asks for your license and registration. Unfortunately for you, your driver's license is suspended. You are charged with a Class E misdemeanor for driving on a suspended license.
While the potential penalty for a misdemeanor conviction in Maine might pale in comparison to felony charges, the maximum penalties are substantial. It is important to note that few ever receive a maximum sentence on a misdemeanor charge, but that does not mean it could never happen. Judges are given wide latitude to hand down the sentence of their choice. Even if you are convicted at trial, your attorney could help you lessen the impact of that outcome.
Class D Penalties
If you are convicted of a Class D offense in Maine, you could face up to a year behind bars in county jail. Additionally, a conviction could also bring a fine of up to $2,000. The rules regarding probation for misdemeanors are strict, meaning probated sentences are uncommon.
Class E Penalties
A conviction for a Class E charge could lead to no more than six months in county jail. In addition to the jail sentence, you could also face a fine of up to $1,000. Probation is even less common in Class E cases than Class D.
In addition to statutory penalties that come with a conviction, there are other consequences you might face. Known as consequences, these penalties do not stem directly from state law but still occur nonetheless.
One of the most common collateral consequences following a misdemeanor conviction is the loss of your employment. Additionally, finding new employment could be a challenge given the prevalence of background checks. Many employers are simply unwilling to hire anyone with a criminal record.
Background checks could also prove to be problematic in your search for housing. If you rent, your landlord has the right to refuse to renew your lease based on a criminal conviction. While the collateral consequences of a misdemeanor are rarely as steep as those in a felony conviction, the should not be discounted.
Discuss your Case with a Maine Misdemeanor Attorney
No matter the type of misdemeanor, it is important that you seek legal help immediately after you are charged with a crime. To discuss your case with an experienced Maine misdemeanor lawyer, contact the Law Offices of William H. Ashe right away.