Maine Criminal Charges Attorney
Serving Clients in the Biddeford, Saco, Bangor, Augusta and Portland Areas
If you have been arrested for a crime in Maine, it is important to understand the consequences that you may be facing. In the state of Maine, the severity of a crime is measured by a code classification system. Each code comes with its own minimum and maximum sentences. Several of the codes are felonies and some are misdemeanors. For every criminal offense, there is a set of minimum and maximum penalties.
Maine Criminal Sentencing
When a person is convicted of a crime, they are subject to be sentenced by the judge. For the most part their sentence depends on the judge's discretion but guidelines are set based on the criminal classification of the offense. These classifications provide minimum and maximum guidelines for fines and jail time. A judge can also make the decision to include probation, community service and more.
Usually, the judge will look at the facts of the case and any aggravating factors that were involved. The judge will also take the offender's criminal record, and social history into consideration. In some cases the victim or victim's family will also give input for the judge's consideration. For many crimes there are mandatory minimum sentences that must be dealt out.
The most severe sentence a person can receive is a life sentence. The State of Maine does not use the death penalty. Some crimes, like murder, have their own special classification. Murder cases usually result in a sentence of 25 years to life in jail.
Criminal Classifications in Maine
Maine has adopted a criminal classification system that it uses to set minimum and maximum jail time and fines for various offenses. The old classification of misdemeanor and felony crimes is no longer officially in use, though the terms are still used to explain the severity of a charge. This new system allows for more levels of penalties because it uses five different classes of crimes.
There are five criminal classification codes; A, B, C, D, and E. Class D and E offenses are the least serious codes and fall into the misdemeanor categories. Classes A, B, and C are the most serious and are felony offenses. It is important to understand what classification your charges fall under and what penalties a conviction for that crime can lead to. Some crimes have special circumstances and do not fall into a category. Murder charges, for example, are punishable by 25 years to life in prison.
Class E crimes carry a maximum penalty of a fine of up to a $1000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 180 days of jail. It is the class used for the least serious offenses like operating on a suspended license, disorderly conduct and theft under $1,000. Along with Class D crimes, these charges are typically misdemeanors.
Class D offenses include domestic violence assault cases, assault and OUI/DUI/DWI (drunk driving) offenses. Class D offenses carry a maximum penalty of up to 364 days of jail and a fine of up to $2000. If you simply plead guilty to a Class D offense, the judge can sentence you to the maximum penalty and you will have no recourse.
A Class C offense is the lowest level felony offense in Maine. An example of a Class C offense could be an Aggravated OUI where you may have 2 or more priors. It could be a felony habitual offender charge. It could be an Aggravated Criminal Mischief or felony theft. The maximum fine or penalty that could be imposed for a Class C conviction is up to 5 years of prison and/or $5000 in fines.
Class B offenses are extremely serious charges. This class of charges includes trafficking in drugs, some sexual assault cases, aggravated assault cases and motor vehicle DUI involving serious bodily injury. Class B crimes include punishments up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Class A offenses are reserved for the most serious of crimes in the State of Maine such as manslaughter, gross sexual assault (commonly referred to as rape) and aggravated trafficking in scheduled drugs. The mandatory maximum penalty that can be imposed is up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000. If the charge is murder, the minimum sentence that can be imposed would be 25 years and up to life imprisonment.
Maine law has an extra caveat to the law if a weapon is involved. In circumstances where a dangerous weapon was used to commit the crime, the charges will be one class higher than average. For example, a domestic violence assault is usually a Class D crime, but if a gun was used during the assault, it will be charged as a Class C crime. If the crime was already a Class A, consideration for the use of the weapon will be taken when deciding a sentence.
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