In my articles, I like to include possible criminal case resolutions. This article goes over ways that a Maine criminal case can be resolved. Here, the word “resolved” means that no more negotiation or argument is required. The term “closed” means that all aspects of the criminal sentence has been served.
When looking at these resolutions, right away some might appear better than others. Examples of collateral consequences include:
- License suspension
- Becoming prohibited from owning firearms
- Felon status
You can rely on the criminal defense lawyers at The Nielsen group to walk you through the Maine legal system and assure your best interests are represented. We will work with you to help find the best resolution to your case given the case’s circumstances. Please feel free to contact us with questions about your charges.
This article provides an overview of how Maine criminal cases can be resolved with the help of your criminal defense attorney. Your Maine criminal defense attorney’s job is to help you find the best possible resolution for your case given the case’s circumstances. Some resolutions will have fewer collateral consequences then others. You should only agree to a resolution under the advice of a criminal defense attorney.
How a criminal case gets resolved in Maine depends on many factors. The severity of the charges, the District Attorney’s willingness to negotiate, and any prior criminal history are examples of contributing factors. Only your lawyer can tell you if a case resolution is right for you. In my practice, I strive to reach case resolutions matching each client’s needs.
Resolutions with Immediate Outcomes
In a dismissal, the District Attorney agrees to drop the charges. The case stops then and there. A dismissal is the best possible outcome in a criminal case. However, a dismissal is not always an option. The state might not agree to dismiss the case outright, when the state has strong evidence and the charges are serious.
Frequently, criminal charges are resolved via plea agreement. In a plea agreement, the District Attorney and the criminal defense lawyer come to a shared understanding about what criminal charges should be and how the criminal defendant should be sentenced. Plea agreements are formally signed onto by a Judge or Justice of the Court.
Plea agreements are as varied as the cases themselves. The idea behind a plea agreement is that everyone gets a little bit of what they want in the case resolution. While the criminal defendant might avoid jail, the State can get a conviction and perhaps a fine and/or restitution.
Some plea agreements include:
Agreed to Pleas
In an agreed to plea agreement, the client pleads guilty to a criminal charge, is convicted, and then sentenced. Sentences can include a straight jail sentence, just a fine or a combination of bot. Some sentences even include court-ordered driver’s license suspensions if a motor vehicle crime was alleged.
Split sentences can run as follows:
- Part One: Mandatory or unsuspended Jail Portion. Serve the jail portion you are required to serve. Some plea agreements have mandatory minimum jail requirements while others unsuspended portions or do not require jail at all. In some cases, such as some OUI cases, jail time can be served in the Alternative Sentencing Program (ASP). ASP is supervised community service work performed over a weekend. Because ASP is offered over weekends, it can be a popular option.
- Part Two: Suspended Jail Portion- The suspended sentence portion can be either suspended “partially” or suspended “fully.” In a fully suspended sentence, all jail time is held back. Jail would have to be served only in the event of a probation or administrative release revocation.
- Part Three: Probation or Administrative release described below.
Jail can be followed by probation, which is supervised release. During probation, you work closely with your probation officer (P.O.). If you violate probation conditions, then you can serve jail time up to your full remaining sentence.
Jail or suspended sentence can be followed by Administrative Release. Administrative release is a lot like bail. You are required to meet special conditions, but it is not supervised like probation. If you violate administrative release, then you could spend jail time up to your remaining sentence.
In a Filing Agreement, the State sets aside the case. The defendant does not have to enter a guilty plea. During the “deferred” period, the defendant has to meet a number of conditions, including staying out of criminal trouble. Filing agreements might include a filing fee. If successful, the State dismisses the case without any further court dates.
Some sentences can be deferred through a deferred disposition. While the sentence is deferred, the criminal defendant is required to stay out of trouble, among other requirements. When the “deferment” is completed, then the defendant is sentenced and the case can be closed. Not everyone is eligible for a deferred disposition. Check first with your criminal defense lawyer to know what is right for you.
Eligibility for a Deferred Disposition is outlined by Maine Statute 15 MRSA Section, 1348. A deferred disposition agreement goes as follows:
- Step 1: Defendant enters a guilty plea to one or more charges.
- Step 2: Sign deferred disposition agreement. The agreement is usually for one year, but it could depend on the specific case.
- Step 3: Adhere to deferred disposition requirements. These requirements include mandatory terms, such as no new crimes committed. Optional conditions could include performing community service, getting a mandatory substance abuse evaluation, or completing a Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program (CBIP).
- Step 4: Attend Sentencing Hearing at the end of the deferred period. If you were successful, then you get the upside of the agreement. The upside is usually a dismissal or pleading guilty to a lesser charge.
With a deferred disposition there is also a potential downside. If you do not meet the terms of your agreement, then you get convicted of the charge you entered a guilty plea to at the outset. In this way, if you mess up your deferred disposition, then you would suffer the consequence of the more serious conviction. As a criminal defense lawyer, I want clients to be successful in their deferred disposition agreements.
Finally, you can resolve your criminal case through a trial to a verdict. A trial can be before either a jury or a judge at a bench trial. A jury verdict is the final result of a jury trial. A bench or jury trial is your day in court, and you have a constitutional right to a trial by jury. After trial, the Jury can find you guilty or not guilty of the charges. If the Jury cannot agree, then there is a mistrial. The Jury only determines guilt or innocence. A Judge would determine your sentence in the event of a guilty verdict. At a Bench Trial it is only the Judge that determines whether you are guilty or not as well as issues the sentence if any.
We understand how this is a stressful time in your life. Let us handle advocating for your rights and negotiating with the district attorney. Our experience handling cases like yours means we can anticipate what’s the best approach to advocate your case. If you would like to talk to a Maine criminal defense attorney at the Nielsen Group today. (207) 571-8555
For More Information:
If you gained a better understanding of case resolutions from this article, then you might also find the following articles helpful:
- Questions to Ask your OUI Defense Lawyer
- Court Process for Marijuana and Alcohol OUI Laws
- What Are the Maine OUI Laws?