Maine Law and Domestic Violence Charges
Defending the Accused in Portland, Augusta, Biddeford, Saco and Bangor
Maine courts take domestic violence allegations very seriously. When you've been charged with the crime of Domestic Violence Assault, you're facing an uphill battle due to the extremely negative perceptions surrounding this crime. According to a 2014 report published by the Bangor Daily News, domestic violence is the root cause of more than 50% of all murders committed in the State of Maine. That means that more murders are committed by spouses or domestic partners than are committed during drug deals gone bad or random acts of violence.
In order for a crime of domestic violence to be charged, there must be a finding that the Defendant and Victim are either dating partners or household or family members. If the "victim" is neither a family member or a dating partner, then it would be a crime of assault only; not domestic violence.
In addition, in order to constitute an assault under Maine's domestic violence laws, the conduct must be assaultive or offensive in nature. An example of offensive physical contact would be spitting on your spouse or throwing a drink in her face. While he or she may not have suffered any type of "bodily injury", the conduct would certainly constitute offensive physical contact and would thus qualify as a crime of Domestic Violence.
Crimes of Domestic Violence are also commonly referred to as mens rea offenses. That means that they are crimes where the defendant's culpable state of mind must be proven by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In Maine, the prosecutor must prove that the conduct (whether it injurious or offensive physical contact) was committed intentionally, knowingly or recklessly. A complete defense to the state of mind of intent or knowledge includes the defense of self-intoxication. Unfortunately, self-intoxication is not a defense to the reckless element that is commonly charged in Domestic Violence Assault cases.
Keep in mind that in Maine, the domestic violence laws are "gender neutral", which means that both men and women can be charged with a Domestic Violence Assault. Maine's judicial system focuses on the course of conduct or the event that classifies as domestic violence assault and not on whether the offender was a man. With that said, while it is becoming increasingly common to see women charged with Domestic Violence Assault here in Maine, it is still a rare event when compared to the number of men charged with that crime.
A first offense charge of this nature would normally be charged as a class D offense, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.00. You can expect that a portion or all of any jail sentence imposed by the court will be suspended but you'll be required to spend a period of 2 years probation and you'll have to successfully complete Maine's Certified Batter's Intervention Program, which is a 48 week program. In addition, you'll be required to pay for the program, which will cost you about $1,200.00.
The penalties for a Domestic Violence Assault charge increase dramatically if you've ever been convicted of a crime of Domestic Violence or you've ever been convicted of the crime of Violating a Protection Order. Under this scenario, the state of Maine will charge the crime as a class C felony, which carries maximum penalties of up to five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.00. A term of probation would also be included as part of any felony sentence imposed by the court.