Assault in Maine can be charged if you have intentionally hurt someone else or if your contact with another person was considered offensive. Needless to say, the second part is a bit vague. It equates to the district attorney being able prove that any reasonable person would have been offended by the contact. In most cases, the charge of assault in Maine is a misdemeanor. However, if the accused has prior convictions, used a weapon, inflicted severe injuries, or exhibits extreme indifference to the value of life, the charge may be increased to aggravated assault, which is a felony in Maine. As you can see, the weight of consequences depends upon several circumstances. The least serious form of assault in Maine is a class D misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of up to a year of jail and/or a $2,000.00 fine and a minimum penalty of a $300.00 fine. Maine’s assault statutes (17-A MRSA § 207 through 208-C) provide a good overview of the legal nuances. Depending upon the circumstances of the crime, the charge may be more severe which causes the fines and incarceration time to increase.
Let’s take a moment to examine what a person charged with assault in Maine can anticipate and what they can do to help in their defense.
- Defining Assault in Maine
- Classifications and Penalties for Assault in Maine
- How a criminal defense attorney can help
- Understanding the court criminal process for Assault cases
Definition of Assault in Maine
Assault in Maine generally can be described as any form of physical contact that is offensive, is likely to cause injury, or in fact causes injury to another person. In practical terms, this charge of Assault in Maine can include a wide variety of actions from hitting, punching, and kicking, to grasping a hold of someone’s arm. The offensive physical contact does not have to leave a mark in form of a cut or a bruise in order for it to be considered an assault. There are different types of charges for Assault in Maine.
One common thread among all of the various types of charges for assault in Maine is that they all consider the person’s state of mind when the incident occurred. The state of mind of the accused is considered to determine intent. Did the accused understand their actions or did the accused intend to take the actions committed in the assault.
Assault in Maine has three degrees of severity – Assault, Aggravated Assault, and Elevated Aggravated Assault. There is also special consideration given to assault which occurs while hunting.
Maine statute 17-A MRSA §207 governs simple assault. The elements of this charge include that the person “knowingly or recklessly” caused the physical harm or offense on the victim.
Simple assault is considered a Class D misdemeanor. However, if the person commits the simple assault on a minor child under the age of 6 years old, the assault is aggravated to a Class C felony.
A simple assault can be aggravated to a charge of Aggravated Assault, 17-A MRSA §208 when the assault involves the following factors:
- Committing the assault with the use of a dangerous weapon
- If the assault causes serious bodily injury to another
- If the nature of the assault exhibits an “extreme indifference to the value of human life,” such as:
- The number of injuries
- The manner of how the injuries were inflicted
- The use of strangulation
Aggravated Assault is considered to be a Class B felony.
Elevated Aggravated Assault
A simple assault can be aggravated to a charge of Elevated Aggravated Assault, 17-A MRSA §208-B, when the assault involves the following factors:
- “Intentionally or Knowingly” committing the assault with a dangerous weapon
- If the assault causes serious bodily injury with the use of a dangerous weapon and is conduct that evidences a “depraved indifference” to human life
- If the assault causes serious bodily injury with “terroristic intent”
Elevated aggravated assault is considered a Class A felony, which is the most severe class of crime in Maine.
Assault While Hunting
In Maine, there is a special category of assault reserved for hunting accidents called Assault While Hunting, 17-A MRSA §208-A. If during the course of hunting wild game or game birds, such as deer or partridge, the hunter assaults another person with a dangerous weapon, such as a shotgun, rifle, or arrow, it is considered assault while hunting.
Unlike the other types of assault charges, the state of mind element in this charge only requires that the person acted with “criminal negligence” as opposed to intentionally or recklessly causing harm.
Assault while hunting is considered a Class D misdemeanor.
Penalties for Assault in Maine
In cases of Assault in Maine, the penalties depend on the class of the crime upon conviction. Here are some of the maximum penalties for each class of crime:
- Class D misdemeanor– Up to $2,000.00 Fines, Up to 364 days jail
- Class C felony- Up to $5,000.00 Fines, Up to 5 years jail
- Class B felony– Up to $20,000.00 Fines, Up to 10 years jail
- Class A felony– Up to $50,000.00 Fines, Up to 30 years jail
For assault while hunting, in addition to the criminal conviction, the person would potentially lose their hunting license.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Because Assault in Maine is a charge that ranges from a D misdemeanor to an A felony, there could be a lot of room for a Criminal Defense Attorney to advocate for a less serious charge. When looking to hire a criminal defense attorney, here are some things to consider:
Does the Criminal Defense Attorney Look into any possible violations of your constitutional rights? Because assault in Maine cases can often involve a confession from the accused obtained in the police investigation, it is vital that any such confession be obtained in such a way as to respect your constitutional rights. This means being read your Miranda rights while you are in police custody before any such confession is made. If the confession was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights, then your Assault Defense Attorney can push to have the confession excluded (suppressed) from evidence.
Does the Criminal Defense Attorney Look to Cross-Examine the Reporting Witnesses Aggressively? Because assault cases often rely upon eyewitness accounts, it is important that the State’s case be tested by cross-examining the reporting witnesses at trial for any inconsistencies in their testimony or previous statements.
Does the Criminal Defense Attorney explore all possible defenses for your case? In criminal cases, there are certain arguments called “affirmative defenses” which can be applied at court to fight the charge. A good example of an affirmative defense is to argue for “self-defense” in a case of assault in Maine.
The Criminal Court Process for charges of Assault in Maine
For Assault in Maine cases, they follow a criminal court process. This process typically starts with an arrest for assault in Maine.
Arrest for Assault in Maine
An arrest for an assault in Maine does not always happen with the accused being caught “red-handed” by law enforcement. Usually, there is a report submitted to police about the incident taking place, either by the injured victim or eyewitnesses. If the assault required the victim to receive immediate medical attention, medical personnel can report the assault to police.
In my practice, most often a case of assault starts with an incident report to police, afterwards the police arrest the accused for assault in Maine based upon evidence contained within that report. Next the police take the accused to the police station for questioning. Through interrogation, the police will attempt to get the accused to confess to what the police believe happened. If you ever find yourself being interrogated by police, and they are trying to get you to confess to a crime, do not incriminate yourself. It is your constitutional right to not incriminate yourself by remaining silent. While I can understand that it is the normal thing to answer questions when someone asks you something, here your freedom that is on the line. Your best course of action is to simply tell the police that you do not want to answer any questions without a criminal defense attorney present, and then say nothing else. In other words, stop talking.
Arraignment for Assault in Maine
Depending on whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, you would either have to come to Arraignment as noted on your Summons, or you would be brought to an initial appearance in front of a Judge. An Arraignment is for the purpose of having the charges read to you, and for you to answer to the charge in the form of Not Guilty. If charged with a felony, you would first need to be indicted by a grand jury before being arraigned.
Dispositional Hearing on Assault in Maine
Because cases based upon assault in Maine often depend upon eyewitness testimony to identify the accused, as a criminal defense lawyer one of the resources I like to use is a private investigator, or PI. A private investigator can investigate further to see if any of the witnesses have changed their stories over time. It can be very significant if an eyewitness seemed sure of what they saw at the time of the incident, but now is not so sure of what they saw. Based on the private investigator’s report, this could a basis to encourage the State’s Attorney to offer a more favorable resolution to the case at the next court date, which is the Dispositional Hearing or Docket Call.
After the Dispositional Hearing come any pretrial hearings, such as a Motion to Suppress. A Motion to Suppress requests that any questionable evidence obtained in violation of the accused’s constitutional rights be excluded from evidence at trial. The Motion to Suppress is filed by the criminal defense attorney, and the Court sets a hearing date. At the Suppression Hearing, the attorneys argue to the Judge, and the Judge makes the final determination whether the evidence can be used at the upcoming trial.
Trial for Assault in Maine
A trial is what most people think of when they think about having their “day in court.” An essential part of the State’s argument at Trial would be putting the Assault victim on the stand to tell the jury how the defendant caused their injuries. Any witness on the Stand is subject to cross-examination by the other side. As a criminal defense attorney, it is my responsibility to cross-examine all of the State’s witnesses for any potential inconsistencies and to bring these inconsistencies in front of the jury. As a defendant, you have the right to choose whether or not you want to get on the stand at trial to testify on your own behalf. Ultimately, it is up to the jury whose testimony they find to be most compelling.
Contact a Maine Criminal Defense Attorney
In situations like these, the stakes are high. It is important that you take swift action to have an advocate counsel you on the Maine legal system. There are proven strategies to defending assault in Maine cases. The sooner our legal team becomes involved in the case the more time we will have to do our own fact finding as we help to prepare your defense. Effective action taken by a skilled criminal defense lawyer before charges are filed by the DA sometimes can result in a lesser charge or in some cases prevent any charges from being filed. Whether the assault charge involves Domestic Violence (DV), use of a firearm or in any other way results in an aggravated charge, it is imperative that you contact our firm as quickly as possible after the arrest.
Our committed legal team is determined to take immediate action to seek a positive case outcome. If you or someone you know is charged with assault in Maine, I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. We will take the time to answer your questions and to put your mind at ease as we work with you to determine a defense strategy.
It is well worth your time to check out:
If you would like to call us now at (207) 571-8555, we can begin to develop your case strategy.
If you enjoyed this article on Assault in Maine, you may also want to read:
- Assault is a Violent Crime in Maine