Sex offenses are some of the hardest criminal defense cases out there. The charge alone is damaging enough to a person's reputation, but a conviction can mean serious punishment and registration on Maine's sex offender list.
False accusations are common, but even then, there will be challenges because the State of Maine will employ all its resources to convict you. If you have been charged with a sex offense in Maine, you will need honest guidance, meaningful advice, and strong, smart legal representation. Contact William H. Ashe, an experienced sex crime defense attorney in Maine. In the meantime, here's an overview of sex offenses in Maine.
What types of sex offenses are there in Maine?
Title 17-A, Chapter 11 governs all sexual assault offenses in Maine. These include the following offenses:
- gross sexual assault (17-A §253) (claims of rape or statutory rape are often filed under this law, but this statute also criminalizes sex acts between people with certain relationships)
- sexual abuse of minors (17-A §254) (statutory rape is also charged under this law)
- unlawful sexual contact (17-A §255-A) (statutory rape is also charged under this law)
- visual sexual aggression against a child (17-A §256)
- sexual misconduct with a child under 14 years of age (17-A §258)
- solicitation of a child to commit a prohibited act (17-A §259-A) (also known as child enticement)
- solicitation of a child to engage in prostitution (17-A §259-B)
- unlawful sexual touching (17-A §260) (statutory rape is also charged under this law)
- prohibited contact with a minor, sex offender restricted zone (17-A §261).
Each of these sex offenses has certain elements that must be proven separately before you can be found guilty of the offense.
These offenses all involve some form of sexual act, sexual contact, or sexual touching either with an adult or a minor. The meaning of these terms is defined by the statute (17-A §251).
Sexual act means:
(1) Any act between 2 persons involving direct physical contact between the genitals of one and the mouth or anus of the other, or direct physical contact between the genitals of one and the genitals of the other;
(2) Any act between a person and an animal being used by another person which act involves direct physical contact between the genitals of one and the mouth or anus of the other, or direct physical contact between the genitals of one and the genitals of the other; or
(3) Any act involving direct physical contact between the genitals or anus of one and an instrument or device manipulated by another person when that act is done for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire or for the purpose of causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact.
Sexual contact means:
any touching of the genitals or anus, directly or through clothing, other than as would constitute a sexual act, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire or for the purpose of causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact.
Sexual touching means:
any touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin or inner thigh, directly or through clothing, for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.
Are there any defenses to allegations of sex crimes in Maine?
As mentioned, sex crimes are difficult crimes to defend. First, to prove a sexual act, an allegation or proof of penetration is not required. This alone gives the prosecutor an advantage. Also, if the offense includes "compulsion" as an element (e.g., fear of force), there is no requirement that the victim had to resist, which makes false allegations easier.
That said, the state must still prove the elements of the offense and William H. Ashe will use his resources to challenge the State's arguments. He will challenge the state by crafting a strong defense strategy that will incorporate defenses like the following – when applicable – and use certain motions or arguments strategically to impeach witnesses or counter layperson and expert witness testimony. He will also submit evidence on your behalf, including witnesses that support your defense.
Defenses to Rape Allegations
If the charge against you is one for rape, but the act was consensual, you have a defense. False allegations are often made for whatever reason, maybe it was a messy breakup or a bad date, but if the person consented, then it's not rape, even if the person isn't happy afterward.
In cases where gross sexual assault is the charge because of a certain relationship, you have a defense if you are married to the person. For example, if you are a psychiatrist and your spouse is your patient, then consensual sex – even though typically criminalized – is lawful.
Also, in cases where you offered someone a drug and that person willingly took it and then engaged in sexual activity while impaired, you have a defense.
Defenses to Statutory Rape Claims
If the charge against you is one for statutory rape, there are several defenses that may be applicable:
- Marriage – are you married to the person who is considered a minor by law?
- Romeo & Juliet – is the alleged victim 15 or 15 years old, are you no more than 5 years older, and was the sex consensual?
- Mistake of age – in cases of sexual abuse of a minor aged 14 or 15, did the child lied about his or her age?
If you answered affirmatively to any of these questions, then you may have a viable defense alone, apart from the defense strategies William H. Ashe will develop for your specific case.
Defenses to Sex Offenses Generally
In some cases, the victim may have mistaken you for another person – this happens. We will use our resources to clear your name. There may be other defense, too, or you may simply be innocent. Whatever it is, William H. Ashe will investigate and build your defense accordingly.
What penalties can a person convicted of a sex crime expect in Maine?
Sex offenses in Maine can run anywhere between Class E (the least severe) and Class A (the most severe) crimes – much of it depends on the following factors:
- the age of the victim
- the relationship
- whether it was near a school
- the presence of a weapon
- past history of sex offenses
- other aggravating circumstances.
Class A crimes are punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. Gross sexual assault offenses are often Class A crimes.
Class B crimes are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000. Gross sexual assault is usually a Class B crime.
Class C crimes are punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Gross sexual assault based on the parties' relationship (e.g., psychiatrist/patient) is a Class C crime.
Class D crimes are punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. Unlawful sexual conduct absent digital penetration is usually a Class D crime but is a Class C crime if penetration. Unlawful sexual touching is also usually a Class D crime.
Class E crimes are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Sexual misconduct between a school employee and a student at the same school or district is usually a Class E crime.
Most persons convicted of a sexual offense will also have to register on Maine's sex offender registry for at least 10 years.
Contact a Smart, Strategic Sex Crimes Defense Attorney in Maine Today
If you have been charged with a sex offense in Maine, get legal help immediately. Contact William H. Ashe online or at 207-615-1344 today.