In addition to severe penalties, a sexual assault conviction may also carries a serious social stigma; in fact a mere charge of such conduct may adversely affect one’s standing among friends, family, and even complete strangers. If convicted, there is the likelihood of a term of imprisonment and the duty to register as a sex offender which may have the most impactful effect. Despite the stigma of such a charge, you are guaranteed due process under the law the same as a person charged with a less highly charged offense.
Whether you are actually charged or under investigation for a sexual assault offense, you require the assistance of an experienced Maine sexual assault defense attorney to ensure you receive the most effective Contact the Law Office of Richard Berne at (207) 871-7770 for a free consultation to determine the best path forward for your defense.
Definitions in Maine’s Sexual Assault Laws
Statutes concerning sex crimes vary widely among states. Maine Criminal Code 17-A§251 contains the legal definitions of terms used in Maine’s sex related criminal statutes. They include:
Under Maine law the following three fact patterns constitute a sexual act, which does not require proof of penetration:
- Any act between two people involving direct physical contact of their genitals, including oral sex and anal sex.
- Any act between a person and an animal involving direct physical contact of genitals, oral sex, and anal sex.
- Any act which includes the use of an instrument or device on the genitals or anus to induce pleasure, bodily injury, or offensive physical contact to another person.
This refers to touching the genitals or anus directly or through clothing for the purpose sexual arousal or for the purpose of causing bodily injury, or offensive physical contact. Any touching that does not constitute a sexual act is considered sexual contact.
Maine law refers to the use of physical force, the threat of physical force, or a combination of the two as compulsion. The defining characteristic of compulsion is that a victim cannot “repel the actor” or fears death, bodily injury, or kidnapping.
Any touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin, or inner thigh for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire constitutes sexual touching, which can occur directly or through a victim’s clothing.
Sexual Assault Charges in Maine
Maine law recognizes three primary types of sexual assault crimes: gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual conduct, and unlawful sexual touching. Maine law categorizes criminal charges into five classes: Class A, B, and C are felonies and Class E and D crimes are misdemeanors. The specific crimes which fall under each of the categories of sexual assault crimes are listed below.
Gross Sexual Assault
Gross sexual assault crimes be charged as a Class A, B, or C felony depending on the facts of a particular case. Exact prison time will depend on these circumstances and whether or not the offender has any previous criminal history. Those convicted of a Class A crime in Maine face up to a $50,000 fine and a maximum of 30 years in prison. Conviction of Class B crime carries a maximum ten year prison sentence and up to a $20,000 fine. Class C crimes carry a maximum five year prison sentence and up to a $5,000 fine.
Under Maine law a person is guilty of Class A, B, or C Gross Sexual Assault when they engage in a sexual act with another person under one or more of the following circumstances:
Class A Gross Sexual Assault Crimes
- Sexual contact is a result of compulsion; or
- The other person is under age 14; or, under age 12.
Class B Gross Sexual Assault Crimes
- The actor has drugged, intoxicated, or used other means to impair the other person.
- The actor threatens another to engage in a sexual act.
- The other person has a mental disability, preventing them from giving consent.
- The other person in unconscious or cannot physically resist.
- The actor is an official supervisor over the other person who is on probation, a parolee, a released sex offender, or a prisoner.
- The actor is a school teacher, employee, or other official who has a supervisory role a student.
- The actor is the parent, step parent, foster parent, or guardian of a minor.
Class C Gross Sexual Assault Crimes
- The actor is a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or poses as such a professional.
- The actor owns, manages, or works for an organization or program affiliated with the Department of Health and Human Services from which the other person receives services for an intellectual disability, autism, or a mental disability.
Unlawful Sexual Conduct
Many of the same acts implicated in the gross sexual assault statute may result in a charge of unlawful sexual conduct. The primary difference between these two statutes is the existence of force, violence, compulsion, or intentional impairment of another person. The unlawful sexual conduct statute also contains provisions for what other states refer to as statutory rape. These specific sections of the statute define unlawful sexual conduct as follows:
- the other person is under age 14 and the actor is three or more years older.
- the other person is under age 12 and the actor is three or more years older.
- the other person is 14 or 15 years old and the actor is at least 10 years older.
When penetration occurs in the above situations, the law elevates crimes to the next highest class.
Unlawful Sexual Touching
Criminal acts under Maine’s statutes for sexual touching are similar to those included the gross sexual assault or unlawful sexual conduct provisions. However, they do not involve the more serious conduct described in these statutes. For this reason they are classified as Class D misdemeanors, which are punishable up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Contact A Maine Sexual Assault Defense Attorney Today
A criminal charge of sexual assault in Maine is a serious matter—one which prosecutors understandably pursue aggressively. Hiring an experienced sexual assault defense attorney is imperative to ensure an effective defense and the best possible outcome. Richard Berne has represented clients in a wide variety of criminal charges, including sexual assault, during his career. Contact The Law Office of Richard Berne at (207) 871-7770 or online to schedule a free consultation today.