For the past several years domestic violence cases have been a priority of state prosecutors in Maine and around the country. Thus the number of prosecutions has increased dramatically and the sentences have become more severe.
What constitutes domestic violence in Maine?
Domestic violence, which is short for domestic violence assault, is basically assault against someone with whom the person charged has a specifically defined relationship.
To understand domestic violence, you must first understand the defintion of assault. Title 17-A §207, defines assault as when a person intentionally causes harm to another person. However, the harm need not cause actual physical injury since an assault charge may also involve offensive physical contact such as grabbing, pushing, and other conduct that may be offensive.
According to Title 17-A §207A, a person is guilty of domestic violence assault if he or she violates section 207 above and the victim is a family or household member as defined below.
Title 19-A, section 4002, subsection 4, defines family or household members to include spouses, domestic partners, people who live together, biological parents of a child, minor children, and anyone who has been a sexual partner. This individuals who presently or formerly lived together or who are or were sexual partners. Holding oneself out as a spouse is not necessary to constitute living as spouses and the definition of “domestic partners” means 2 unmarried adults who live together under a long term committed relationship.
What are the potential charges for domestic violence?
In most cases domestic violence assault is classified as a Class D misdemeanor.
However, there instnces when a domestic violence assault may be charged as a Class C felony. This may occur if you have been convicted of the following crimes within the last ten years.
- Prior domestic violence charge, including stalking, reckless conduct, assault, and similar charges;
- Violating a protection from abuse order; or
- Domestic violence misdemeanors or felonies in another state.
What sentences are you looking at for domestic violence?
The maximum penalty for a Class D misdemeanor is up to a year in jail and/or a $2000 fine. A person convicted of this offense may also be placed on probation for up to 2 years and required to complete a forty-eight-week batterers intervention education program.
If you are convicted of a Class C felony, the maximum sentence is a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years incarceration, as much as a $5000 in fines and/or a 2 year term of probation.
A sentence of probation in domestic violence cases in Maine will normally include relatively strict supervision, no unsupervised contact with victims at least in the beginning and conditions restricting the consumption of alcohol and/or marijuana.
What are some defenses that you may have to use?
If you are charged with domestic violence assault, it is imperative to consult with a qualified, experienced attorney since these are very serious charges. He or she will assist you in navigating the criminal justice system and advise you as to the viability of such defenses as self defense and/or insufficient evidence. Credibility issues are very important since these cases are often he said, she said matters. For this reason uncovering and analyzing corroborating evidence or factors which may weigh against the truthfulness of an accuser’s story must be considered.
The Law Office of Richard S. Berne is very experienced in domestic violence assault matters so we suggest that you Contact us for a thorough evaluation of your case and the best defense possible.