In Maine, burglary can be charged if the offender enters a building they are not allowed to be in with the intent to commit a crime. The building can be a home, school or a business. Burglaries in Maine often occur when the building is empty. Legal guidance for burglary in Maine is provided in the Maine Burglary statutes. The weight of the consequences for a burglary conviction is determined in part by the type of building burglarized. For business ,the least serious form of burglary in Maine, a criminal conviction can result in fines of up to $5000 and up to 5 years of incarceration if the offender was unarmed. Depending on the type of building burglarized and circumstance of the burglary, the fines and incarceration time can increase.
Let’s take a moment to examine what a person accused of burglary in Maine can anticipate and what they can do to help in their defense.
- Defining Burglary in Maine
- Classifications and Penalties for Burglary in Maine
- Understanding the court criminal process for Burglary cases.
- How a Burglary Defense Lawyer can help
How is Burglary in Maine defined?
Simply put, according to Maine statute 17-A M.R.S.A. §401, burglary is entering a place with the intent to commit a crime. All forms of Burglary in Maine are charged as felonies. You can be charged with burglary alone, but in my practice I often see burglary charges accompanied by other criminal charges from the crime committed inside, such as Theft, Robbery, Assault, or Criminal Mischief.
If the burglar is caught later in possession of certain “tools” used to break into the property, such as a master key, tools, or electronic decoder, that person can be charged also with Possession or Transfer of Burglar’s Tools 17-A M.R.S.A. §403, which is charged as a misdemeanor.
If certain aggravating factors are present, then the Burglary charge, which non-aggravated is a Class C felony, can be aggravated to more serious felonies. Aggravating factors for Burglary include:
- Burglarizing a home or residence.
- Burglary committed with a dangerous weapon (not including a firearm).
- Intentionally or recklessly attempts to inflict injury on another person, or actually inflicting injury on another person while committing burglary.
- Burglary committed with a Firearm.
- Burglary committed with a criminal history of felony convictions or other similar crimes, such as Robbery or Theft.
In order to obtain a conviction, the district attorney needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused:
- Entered a building (or structure)
- Knew they were not allowed in the building.
- Had intent to commit a crime inside the building.
There is another nuance to Burglary in Maine. While it is rare, there is the circumstance when a person has entered a building legally, but then hides and waits to commit a crime. This hiding and waiting is referred to as “surreptitiously remains”. In this situation, the state needs to prove that at the time the accused was hiding, they had the intent to commit a crime.
Classifications and Penalties for Burglary in Maine
Maine has three classifications of burglary: Class A, Class B, and Class C. The penalties for a Burglary conviction are stiff indeed. Burglary is about invading a private residence or business. Often burglary in Maine is charged in conjunction with Theft or Criminal Mischief.
The details of the Maine Statute for Burglary are summarized below:
Class A: This is the most severe offense in either the offender or an accomplice had a firearm. Class A is punishable by:
- Fine up to $50,000
- Jail time for up to 30 years
Class B: This is the less severe offense in which the offender burglarized a residence with a weapon such as a knife – something other than a firearm. With Class B Burglaries the offender may have purposely or unintentionally inflicted bodily harm on the victim.
- Fine up to $20,000
- Jail time for up to 10 years
Class C: This is the offense in which the accused burglarized a non-residence unarmed.
- Fine up to $5,000
- Jail time for up to 5 years
If you have prior felony convictions, the penalties will be harsher. It is wise to touch base with a Maine Burglary Defense Attorney as soon as you are accused.
The Maine Criminal Court Process for Burglary Crimes
Burglary in Maine is often charged as either a class C or class B felony. In Cumberland county maine, burglary is process just as any other criminal case.
An arrest for burglary can occur based on the police receiving an eyewitness tip or a report from the owner of the property that was burglarized. The physical evidence of a burglary, such as a broken window or door lock can inform police how the burglary occurred, as well as fingerprints collected from the scene. In the event that theft accompanies a burglary, the burglar can be identified later if the burglar attempts to sell the stolen property.
Since Burglary is a felony, it is likely that the accused would be taken to the County Jail and bail set. If the accused cannot make the set bail, then the issue of bail can be addressed at the accused’s Initial Appearance at Court.
If a person is charged with a felony in Maine, the person needs to be indicted by a grand jury (charged formally) before that person can be Arraigned. If the accused is not indicted by the Initial Appearance, then an Arraignment date would be set after the indictment is handed down.
At the Arraignment, the Burglary Defense Attorney can expect to receive a copy of the discovery materials (police reports, etc.) the State is using as the basis to charge the person with Burglary. Based on defense counsel’s review of the discovery, if the assistance of a private investigator or forensic expert might prove beneficial for the person’s defense, we would discuss whether or not to engage the services of such an expert.
One of the most significant court dates towards a potential resolution of a burglary in Maine Charge is a Dispositional Hearing, called a Docket Call or Dispositional Conference in Maine. The Dispositional Hearing is chance for the District Attorney and Burglary Defense Attorney to meet to negotiate a resolution to the case without going to a trial. If the State’s case is weak, then Defense Counsel would hammer these weaknesses to advocate for the best possible outcome for the accused. In many instances, Burglary matters can be resolved at the Dispositional Hearing.
If no acceptable resolution is reached at the Dispositional Hearing, or of the accused does not wish to accept the deal offered by the District Attorney, then the case would progress to Jury Selection and a Trial.
One overlooked but vitally important piece of a trial is selecting a jury. In Maine, 12 jurors plus 2 alternates need to be selected from a pool of residents selected for “jury duty.” Juries are not selected at random. The jury that ultimately hears the case is selected from a process of elimination from the court and the attorneys. An tenacious seasoned defense lawyer is very helpful in this process, since choosing a jury is a more challenging process than it looks. In some instances, a favorable resolution to the case can be reached during the jury selection process.
After a jury is chosen, a trial date is set. When you have a strong legal advocate, you have a better chance of having your side of the case understood by the jury.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney can Help Burglary in Maine Charges
Since Burglary in Maine is such a serious crime with stiff consequences, it is important to retain a Burglary Defense Attorney to help fight the charges at court. When looking for a Burglary Defense Attorney, here are some questions to consider:
- Is the Burglary Defense Attorney experienced in defending these types of cases? Experienced means you can get good advice on the realistic outcome of the case.
- Does the Burglary Defense Attorney know how to address the case if there was a video camera or other surveillance involved? A defense Attorney will know how to approach the matter whatever the video footage shows. If the footage is bad news for the client, such as the face clearly captured on the video breaking into a business, then the defense strategy can be adjusted accordingly.
- Is there any question regarding permission to enter into the property burglarized? If there is a question that the defendant might have actually believed that he or she was permitted to enter the premises burglarized, then this is important to the overall case. This is something your Burglary Defense Attorney should know.
- Does the Burglary Defense Attorney ask you about your prior criminal history? If the person facing a burglary charge has a long criminal history of similar activity, such as other burglaries, robberies, theft, or other crimes, then the District Attorney might not be willing to offer a favorable plea arrangement right away. Your Burglary Defense Attorney should know how to approach the District Attorney, or if the facts of the case are appropriate, may advise you to take your case to a trial for the jury to decide.
Contact Maine Burglary Defense Attorney Nielsen
If you or someone you care about is being investigated or have been accused of burglary in Maine, please contact the experienced Maine Burglary Defense attorney, Chris A. Nielsen, today for a free legal consultation. We will be happy to discuss your case and any potential defense you may have. Your information will be kept confidential.
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