If arrested and charged with a crime in Maine, bail can be a component. Making bail allows the courts to release you until your Court date. However, if you cannot make the cash bail component, then you will not be released. Your only option is to work with your attorney to modify your bail conditions if possible, or your criminal case will need to be resolved. Once you are out on bail, you are not “free.” In other words, there are bail conditions by which you need to adhere. Simply stated, Bail Violations are not helpful in your fight against the original charges.
All bail includes requirements that you stay out of trouble and do not get charged with any more crimes. Other bail conditions could include orders to not have any contact with the complaining victim. A common violation for bail is the order to not use or possess any alcohol or illegal drugs. For the State to make sure that you are following your bail, there can also be “random searches.” Random searches means that at any time, for any reason, police can stop you and search you for things prohibited by your bail.
If police find that you have in fact done something prohibited by your bail, then this is a new and separate criminal charge of Violation of Condition of Release, also called a bail violation.
Here, I will attempt to outline the following about bail violations in Maine:
- What is an example of a bail violation in Maine?
- Do you know the Statute for a bail violation in Maine?
- What is a “No Bail Hold?”
- How can a criminal defense lawyer help?
- What is the Court process for a bail violation in Maine?
- What are some outcomes for a bail violation in Maine?
Let’s take a moment and look at each of these questions. The guidance below considers the Maine Law perspective.
What is an Example of a Bail Violation in Maine?
Here is a fictional example of someone who has trouble with bail violations:
Scott has a problem with alcohol. His girlfriend, Gina, has tried to help, but he can’t seem to stop on his own. One evening, Scott demanded that Gina go out and buy more beer. When she refused because he had already had enough beer, Scott became angry and stormed out of the house to get the beer himself. Gina was so upset at this that she called police. Scott was charged with OUI when the police found him on his way back home. His bail conditions included no use or possession of alcohol or illegal drugs and random searches and seizures for items prohibited on bail.
Scott’s Arraignment was three months away and he was upset that he had these bail conditions imposed upon him and that Gina threw him under the bus. Even though his bail said no alcohol, Scott turned to his familiar drug to drown his sadness and frustration.
2:30 AM and police were at the door for a random bail check on Scott. The search did not go far. Scott was across the couch and a half-empty bottle of vodka sat in front of him on the coffee table. Jolted awake, Scott said that the booze was not his. The police said Scott looked like he had been drinking, and they took him to the station for an alcohol breath test where he tested at a 0.06. He was charged with Violation of Condition of Release. Not only does Scott now have 2 criminal cases to deal with, he’s being held at the jail untill he sees a Judge to Arraign him. Since he was already on bail that he violated, Scott is worried that the Judge might not let him back out.
The Statute for Bail Violation in Maine
The Maine Statute governing bail violations is the Maine Bail Code. The elements of Violation of Condition of Release (VCOR) 15 M.R.S.A. Section 1092 are as follows:
- You were on pre-conviction (before conviction) or post-conviction (after conviction) bail; and
- You violated the terms of your bail.
Violation of Condition of Release, shortened to “VCR” or “VCOR,” is a strict liability offense. This means that it does not matter whether or not you meant to violate your bail. Your state of mind is not taken into consideration to prove the charge at Court. Typically, VCOR is a Class E misdemeanor, which is a low level misdemeanor. If convicted of a Class E misdemeanor, the maximum penalties would be up to $1,000.00 in fines and up to six (6) months jail time.
There are situations in which violating bail is a felony. If Scott’s underlying charge is a Felony, then a violation of that bail charge is a felony. However in Scott’s case his underlying charge is a class D misdemeanor, so his new charge for VCOR would me a class E misdemeanor. But if a felony charge is hanging over his head, and if he violates bail, then the court places the new charge of Violation of Condition of Release as a Class C felony. If convicted of a Class C felony, the maximum penalties would be up to $5,000.00 in fines and up to five (5) years jail time.
A “No Bail Hold?” Defined
When arrested on a bail violation, there are cases in which the Bail Commissioner does not allow bail to be set. Attorneys call this situation a “No Bail Hold.” These situations include:
- When the defendant commits new criminal conduct that is a Class C crime, or for a misdemeanor crime involving domestic violence, sexual assault, or sexual exploitation of minors.
- The underlying criminal offense was a Class C felony or above.
- The underlying crime was domestic violence, sexual assault, or sexual exploitation of minors.
How can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
If facing a charge for violation of condition of release, a criminal defense lawyer can help you determine the outcome.
If a Defendant has a bail violation, the State does not hold back. Multiple bail violations cause the State to not favor your situation. In these situations, having an attorney fighting for your rights is very important. If you rack up a lot of bail violations, then the State (and the Court) might get the idea that you are not a safe person to return to the community. When the State sees a lot of bail violations, it assumes that there are no set of bail conditions that would adequately assure that the community would be safe if the Defendant were let out on bail. To assure community safety, the Court can set a very high bail, or hold the Defendant in jail without bail. What happens in your case will depend on your unique circumstances.
What is the Court Process for Violating Bail in Maine?
The Court process for violating bail in Maine depends on whether the charge was a misdemeanor or a felony. The criminal process applied is the Unified Criminal Docket in Maine, which covers all criminal cases.
For a felony, the process takes longer in general. First, a grand jury indicts you . This happens before you can be read the charges officially. In the case of a misdemeanor charge, being read the charges is what happens at your first court date. An arraignment is where the court reads the charges to you and you enter a plea of Not Guilty. No criminal defense attorney should go to Arraignment and enter a client as Guilty.
After Arraignment is a Dispositional Conference, where the attorneys for each side and the Judge meet to try to see if a resolution to the case can be reached outside of Trial. Just because the District Attorney made an offer does not mean that the Defendant has to accept the plea. The defendant, along with their defense attorney, can determine that the offer is not acceptable. If that occurs, then the case progresses to further court dates.
After Dispositional Conference, then the next step is pretrial motions and jury selection and trial. If there are problems with the case, such as any violations of constitutional rights that happened during the investigation into the charge, then this is a good reason for a pretrial Motion to Suppress. If successful, a Motion to Suppress can keep certain information from being used at trial. Without critical evidence, the attorney can compel the State to consider dismissing the charge.
Jury Selection and Jury Trial is your day in Court.
What are the Possible Outcomes for Violation of Condition of Release in Maine?
Here are some potential outcomes for a bail violation charge at Court in Maine:
- Dismissal– A bail violation case can accompany the criminal charge that triggered the violation. If there is a plea agreement in the other case, then sometimes the State will dismiss the bail violation.
- Plea Bargain– In a plea agreement, the defendant enters a guilty plea to a different charge that what was originally in the Criminal Complaint. The new count could be the same class of crime, but have less of an impact on the Defendant in the long run.
- Jury Verdict– In a Jury Verdict, the jury decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. In bail violation cases, I prefer to not take those cases to a full trial because it is generally easy for the State to meet is burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt? In our example here, the defendant has a bail condition of no alcohol. The defendant was found with alcohol. Case closed for the State.
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