If you've been keeping up to date with this blog, or doing any reading about crimes and criminal defense in the state of Maine, then you've probably encountered phrases like “Class D misdemeanor” or “Class A felony.” Most people are aware that there's a difference between a misdemeanor and a felony crime, and that a felony crime is a more serious criminal offense, and comes with more severe criminal penalties, like jail time and fines and probation. But what's this about a “Class” of crime?
Law makers are obsessed with making categories out of everything. They group controlled drugs into Schedules, categorize repeat offenders by how many times they've been convicted in the past, and sort many other types of crimes into voluntary or involuntary. There's a method behind the madness, however. By lumping things together based on the traits or facts that these things have in common, lawmakers can write statutes that target these particular traits or facts. By categorizing drugs into different Schedules, lawmakers can put the most dangerous drugs that have no particular medicinal value into one Schedule, and make it a more serious crime to deal with them.
The same applies to Maine's categorization of crimes into Classes. Crimes were traditionally classified into two categories: They were either felonies, or misdemeanors. Felonies were serious crimes that were punishable with a year or more in prison. Misdemeanors were less serious crimes that were punishable with less than a year behind bars. As more and more laws were written, though, it became clear that more categories were needed, as lawmakers wanted to be more precise. To meet this need, they came up with five Classes of crimes:
- Class E – punishable by up to 6 months in prison, and a $1,000 fine,
- Class D – punishable by up to 364 days in prison, and a $2,000 fine,
- Class C – punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and a $5,000 fine,
- Class B – punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a $20,000 fine,
- Class A – punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and a $50,000 fine.
As you can tell from the listing and the possible penalties, Class A has the worst types of crimes in the state of Maine, while Class E has the least serious crimes. Additionally, you can see that Classes D and E are what used to be misdemeanors in Maine – you can tell because Class D allows for the maximum amount of jail time before hitting one year, which would turn a misdemeanor type crime into a felony type crime. Classes A, B, and C are what used to be felonies.
You will also notice that the Class of crime determines the maximum sentence that you can receive. Many criminal statutes in Maine also specifically state the minimum sentence that you can receive for violating the statute. Using these as extremes, you can determine the range of sentences that you could receive for committing that particular type of crime, if convicted.
Understanding the possible repercussions that you could face, should you be convicted for a crime, is only the first thing that you should know if you're facing charges. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney, like William T. Bly, to protect you liberty: (207) 571-8146.