South Portland, Maine OUI Criminal Defense Attorney
South Portland is located in Cumberland County, directly across from Portland. Its close proximity to Portland has meant that many of the people who can afford to live in the city's suburbs reside in South Portland. As a result, South Portland is a relatively wealthy area for the state of Maine: Its median household income in 2013 was $50,374, slightly higher than the state average of $46,974.
However, South Portland still suffers from the same crime rates as the neighboring city to the north does, with property crime rates near the national average. Despite the high property crime rates, though, violent crimes in South Portland are still significantly below the national average. In an effort to keep the crime rates low, South Portland's police force is significantly larger than the state average, with 2.15 full time law enforcement officers per 1,000 residents. The state average for Maine is 1.69 officers.
South Portland is an oceanside community and according to Wikipedia, is the fourth largest city in the state with a population of approximately 25,000. South Portland has one of the larger police forces in the state of Maine and ranks only behind Portland and Bangor for numbers of police officers. South Portland PD aggressively enforces Maine's strict OUI laws and runs DUI saturation patrols during most weekends and holidays. It's typically during these saturation patrols that the South Portland PD makes the majority of their arrests. The South Portland PD is located at 30 Anthonie Street in South Portland. The police station itself is within a few hundred yards of the South Portland Bridge, which connects South Portland to Portland.
Most, if not all, South Portland PD cruisers are equipped with video camera systems. Video footage of a DUI arrest can prove extremely helpful to a skilled OUI defense attorney. Make sure your attorney understands the proper procedures and channels for obtaining the cruiser video footage. Failure to follow certain guidelines may result in the loss of that video when you need it most... for the defense of your case. In addition, South Portland Police Department's booking and Intoxilyzer areas are wired for video and sound. The same principals concerning the preservation of cruiser video evidence applies here as well.
The vast majority of OUI arrests are brought to the Cumberland County Jail for breath testing and processing. The Cumberland County Jail is located at 50 County Way in Portland. County Way can only be accessed in one direction from Congress Street and is located near the intersection of St. John Street. If you're brought to the jail for processing, you'll have to post some amount of cash bail; typically anywhere from $300.00 - $750.00. If you can't post the bail, you'll be held at the jail until you can be brought before the court where a judge will set your bail. Typically, people are brought before the court within 24 hours of their arrest.
Location of Courthouse & DA's Office
If you get charged with operating under the influence (OUI) in Portland, your case will be handled in the Portland Unified Criminal Docket, in Portland, Maine. This courthouse is located at 205 Newbury Street, in a large, bulky, white stone building. Driving directions can be had using Google Maps, and are also available on the court's website.
Importantly, make sure that you go to the correct courthouse. The Federal District Court for Southern Maine is located directly across Pearl Street from the Maine District Court. The Federal District Court is for federal cases – many people mistakenly go to the federal courthouse when they actually have a state case. Your OUI charge is a state charge, so will be handled in the Maine District Court, not the Federal District Court. Unfortunately, both courthouses look very similar, and are right across the street from each other. Make sure that you go to the correct court; if you don't, and are unable to make it to a court proceeding that requires your presence, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest. If you have any doubts, stand in Lincoln Park, near the intersection of Pearl Street, and Federal Street, and stand with your back to the park, facing the intersection. You want to be in the Maine District Court, the building on the left. You will only have to walk across one road – Federal Street – to get to it. To get to the Federal District Court from that point, you will have to walk across two roads – Federal Street, and Pearl Street.
Unfortunately, as many local Mainers know full well, parking in Portland is extremely difficult to come by. All of the streets within a few blocks of the courthouse have a strictly enforced two hour limit, so street parking may not be the best option. There are, however, two public parking lots near the courthouse. The first one is a parking garage located across the street from the courthouse, on Federal Street. However, this garage is a favorite of those who work both nearby and in the court, so it fills up very quickly. If you arrive close to the court's opening, at 8am, you might be able to find a spot at one of the nearby meters, or in this garage. If you get lucky and this works out, the price for the garage is $2.50 per hour, and is cash only.
If you don't manage to find a parking spot in this garage, your second option is an outdoor lot at the corner of Congress and Pearl Street, on the other side of Lincoln Park from the court, named Top of the Old Port Parking.
If you're attending court for the first time (assuming it is your arraignment), court will likely be held in courtroom #1, which is located on the 1st floor. For all other court appearances, your case will likely be held in courtroom 7. You will not have to venture up to the third floor – this area is only for the Cleave's Law Library and for the Maine Law Court Justices' offices. If you're case is set for jury selection or jury trial, you'll likely be in courtroom #11, which is on the second floor.
Your first court appearance is your arraignment. You are required to attend your arraignment, as Portland's court rules require you to appear in person for your arraignment to plead guilty or not guilty. If you are represented by an attorney, he or she can appear on your behalf. You should try getting to the court 15 minutes before your court appearance. If you're late for your court appearance, the court will likely issue a warrant for your arrest. However, if you don't get to court early, you probably won't be able to find a seat, as the courtroom is often packed to standing room only. This is especially true of courtroom 1, on the first floor, which is where the general public as well as prisoners are arraigned before the court. Oftentimes, family members attend with their loved ones, which can cause the courtroom to be quite crowded.
Even though you should make sure to get to court a little early, you will want to bring a book and a boatload of patience. Court moves very slowly. If your case is scheduled for 9am, you might not see the judge or prosecutor until nearly noon.
Most cases will be set for a trial date approximately 75 days from the arraignment date.
Typically, there is only one opportunity to resolve the case before trial, which is at the dispositional conference. Regardless of whether you want to take the case to trial or not, you will have to attend this conference. Your presence will only be excused by the court in the most extraordinary of circumstances. This is another of Portland's unique set of court rules – the courts in most other counties allow an attorney to completely take care of the criminal matter in the absence of the client, including arraignment and sentencing.
If a deal isn't struck at the dispositional conference, the trial will be held on a later date. If you are found guilty following a trial, be prepared to be placed into custody immediately. While judges have discretion to impose a stay of execution of the sentence, many judges will order the defendant to being serving their jail sentences immediately.
South Portland PD cases are prosecuted by District Attorney Stephanie Andersen and her team of assistant district attorneys. Those cases are heard at the Cumberland County Uniform Criminal Docket, which is located in the Cumberland County courthouse. In most cases, arraignments for misdemeanors are conducted in courtroom number #1, which is located on the first floor, immediately to the right of the security screening section. Most trials and hearings are conducted on the 2nd floor in either courtroom #7, courtroom #8 or courtroom #11. Courtroom #11 is located in the "old part of the building" and is the largest courtroom in the courthouse. The majority of all trials take place in courtroom #11.
The district attorney's office is located off to the left of the court security screening station. As you enter the building and pass through the security screening station, you'll need to take an immediate left, proceed through a door, down 4 stairs and enter the 2nd door on your left. This is where the DA's front office is located and where you can obtain additional information about your case.
Important Facts & Issues
Expect to be screened by court security. Do NOT bring any weapons or drugs into the courthouse. You'll be immediately arrested and prosecuted. Court security screening is aggressive and all persons will be subject to wanding after proceeding through a metal detector. All bags are subject to search and are run through a CT scanner, which will allow the security officer to observe all of the contents of your bag, in color, without ever opening the bag. If something suspicious is viewed in your bag, it will be subject to immediate search.
On days where you may be picking a jury, arrive early. Otherwise, you'll likely find yourself standing outside in a long line as you wait to enter the courthouse and to pass through the security checkpoint. If Murphy's Law holds true, you'll be standing outside, in the rain, without an umbrella, in 35 degree weather. And you'll be miserable. So plan ahead and arrive early.
Attorney William T. Bly
Regardless of where you are arrested in Maine, having a quality criminal defense attorney like William T. Bly on your side can be the best way to prevent an arrest and criminal charge from turning into a devastating conviction. Mr. Bly has extensive experience and a proven track record throughout the state of Maine, including in South Portland. When it comes to criminal defense, and especially OUI-defense, William T. Bly fights for your rights and interests, both in and out of court. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146 or contact him online