A Litchfield man is facing a host of domestic violence offenses after an altercation with a woman who was apparently his girlfriend. Details of the relationship are still sketchy, though, and could test the boundaries of what it means to be a “family or household member” under Maine's domestic violence laws.
Domestic Violence Charges Filed Against Manhunt Suspect
The incident happened over a month ago. Police received a 911 text from a cell phone that then went nonresponsive. The cops tracked the phone to a house and eventually came in contact with the woman who says she sent the text. She claimed that she was with a man who threatened her with a knife and kicked her.
It took a manhunt to find the suspect and place him under arrest. He has since been indicted on numerous charges, including:
- Domestic violence criminal threatening
- Domestic violence terrorizing
- Domestic violence assault.
Details about the relationship between the suspect and the alleged victim, however, do not make it clear whether the domestic violence charges will stick.
Domestic Violence Charges Require Certain Types of Relationships
A domestic violence charge is just a different type of crime that was allegedly committed against certain people that have a close relationship with the suspect. If that relationship is not present, the domestic violence element disappears.
The necessary relationship is a “family or household member,” which is defined at 19-A Maine Statute § 4002(4).
This statute lists some very specific relationships, like current or former spouses, as well as some more general relationships, like sexual partners or people who live together.
Even the most general types of “family or household members,” though, do not clearly include this particular suspect and his alleged victim. Based on the news reports, the only indication that the alleged victim lived with the suspect was the fact that the location of the phone when it sent the text message was the house where the suspect lived.
Of course, anyone who has been in a serious relationship with someone knows that the exact moment when two people “live together” is often tricky to pinpoint. Is it when two people spend a week straight living in the same place? When they spend more than half the nights in a month together? When the visitor decides to buy a toothbrush to leave at the house?
These details matter because they can make or break a prosecutor's case for a domestic violence offense. If the prosecutor can't show that there was a domestic violence element to the alleged crime, the penalties of a conviction – and the issues that you could have to deal with, as the case moves through the system – get reduced.
Domestic Violence Defense at WTB Law in Portland
The domestic violence and criminal defense lawyers at WTB Law strive to legally represent those who have been accused of a crime in southern Maine. Call our law office at (207) 571-8146 or contact us online if you have been arrested and accused of a crime of domestic violence in Portland, Saco, Biddeford or surrounding areas.