Domestic Violence Assault in Maine is among the crimes categorized as a domestic violence-specific crime. Other crimes in this group are Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening, Domestic Violence Terrorizing, Domestic Violence Stalking, and Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct. Law enforcement including the District Attorney’s office considers all crimes of domestic violence assault in Maine very seriously. The State has recognized the physical and emotional danger that domestic violence poses in the home. However, the District Attorney’s Office is often challenged to prove the charges of domestic violence assault in Maine. Let’s take a look at what the District Attorney needs to prove beyond all reasonable doubt when charging someone with committing domestic violence assault in Maine.
If you are charged with Domestic Violence Assault in Maine, here are some things you need to know including how you can help your defense.
- What are the Maine laws for domestic violence assault?
- How can you be arrested for domestic violence assault?
- What are the penalties for a domestic violence assault conviction?
- How can a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Help?
- What is the Maine court process for domestic violence assault?
Definition of Domestic Violence Assault in Maine
Domestic Violence Assault in Maine is a form of simple assault. A simple assault is any form of offensive physical contact on another person, such as hitting, punching, kicking, or grasping a hold of another’s arm. Domestic Violence Assault in Maine, occurs when the victim of an assault is a “family or household member” of the accused. Domestic Violence Assault in Maine covered in the Maine Statute 17-A M.R.S.A. §207-A
Many types of domestic relationships are considered to be “family or household members” for the purpose of domestic violence assault in Maine. The relationships recognized as domestic violence are not limited to blood relatives or current spouses. Additional “household” members include:
- Current and former spouses
- Current or former dating partners
- Unmarried Co-habituating Adults
- Biological parents of the same minor child
- Dating sexual partners
The law governing domestic violence assault in Maine describes only the elements of a domestic violence assault charge. Therefore, either men or women can be accused of committing domestic violence assault in Maine. In my practice I have represented female domestic violence assault defendants as well as male domestic violence assault defendants.
First Offense Domestic Violence Assault in Maine
The severity of the charge for domestic violence assault in Maine depends on whether or not the accused has any prior history of run-ins with the law for domestic violence.
What conditions need to be met to qualify with being charged with the First Offense of Domestic Violence Assault in Maine.
- In your criminal record, you should not of had any other prior convictions for domestic violence.
- There is evidence of assault. Where the accused has either intentionally, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury or offensive physical contact to a family or household member.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Assault in Maine
Domestic Violence Assault in Maine is charged as a Class D misdemeanor. Sentencing for this class D misdemeanor often includes:
- include up to $2,000.00 in fines
- maximum jail time of up to 364 days
- Mandated completion of a 48 week Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program (CBIPs)
Second or Subsequent Offense Domestic Violence Assault– If the domestic violence assault charge is the accused’s second or subsequent domestic violence-related charge, then it will be charged as a Class C felony. The maximum penalties for a Class C felony include up to $5,000.00 in fines and up to 5 years jail time. Additional circumstances can be counted as a prior domestic violence charges, including:
- Prior convictions for violating a Protective Order when the subject of the protection was also a family or household member.
- Prior domestic violence-related charges from another State or jurisdiction.
How a Domestic Violence Assault Attorney Can Help
Law enforcement and District Attorney’s Office take all matters of domestic violence assault in Maine very seriously. They take the matter even more seriously if the incident occurred in front of a minor child. Because these authorities take domestic violence assault in Maine so seriously, it is best to hire an attorney as soon as possible so that your attorney can maximize what he can do to defend against the charges. Here are some common defense approachs I often explore when representing someone charged with domestic violence assault in Maine.
Examine the Police Investigation for any Violations of your Miranda Rights – Did the police conduct a proper investigation that respects the constitutional rights of the accused? Or did the police try to force a confession out of the accused? If the police investigation obtained a confession from the accused in a way that violates the accused’s constitutional civil rights, then the criminal defense attorney can motion the court to have this questionable evidence suppressed (excluded from) being used at trial.
Evaluate whether a Private Investigator May Benefit Your Defense – With the passage of time, sometimes witnesses, including the complaining victim, can change their story from when the police made their initial report. A private investigator can talk to the witnesses again, as well as talk to any witnesses that might have not have been approached by law enforcement, to see what their stories are. If the witness’s stories have changed, then this is significant for the defense of the case.
Examine if the State’s witness may have credibility problems – In domestic violence assault in Maine cases, the State’s evidence is usually in the form of witness statements given to the police around the time of the incident. The State’s best witness linking the accused to the crime is usually the domestic violence assault victim. In the American justice system, defendants accused of committing a crime have the right to confront their accusers at court and to cross-examine their testimony. It is the role of the criminal defense attorney to defend the case by finding the inaccuracies in witness testimony and the holes in the State’s case.
Consider the factual evidence – With an objective perspective, one should to look at the facts of what occurred during the incident. Quite often alcohol is a factor and in the heat of the moment it is hard to determine who started what. Was the physical contact intentional, knowing or reckless? Was the contact “offensive” or perhaps was someone just trying to leave a situation turning sour in a hurry?
Was the self defense warranted in this situation – As Mainers, we are allowed to protect our self if someone is trying to cause us physical harm. If self defense was warranted, then the district attorney’s office must prove that it was not warranted in the situation.
Arrest for Domestic Violence Assault in Maine
In an arrest for domestic violence assault in Maine, often the police receive a call to respond to a domestic abuse situation. The complaining victim might call 911, or a concerned neighbor who overheard an argument might have called the police. Too often domestic violence cases arise from an argument that escalates too far and gets out of hand. In these cases, too often one or both of the parties were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or one or both have a family history of domestic violence.
When law enforcement officers respond to a call for potential domestic violence, two officers often arrive at the scene. Each officer will interview one of the parties to try to piece together what happened. The domestic violence assault victim might have physical signs of an assault, such as bruises or scrapes. However, physical evidence on the victim is not required. The officers might also investigate the physical appearance of the home. Does anything look out of place or suggest that a struggle took place? If after conferring, and the officers have grounds for probable cause that one of the parties committed domestic violence assault, then that person would be arrested and taken into custody.
Mandatory Bail Conditions for Domestic Violence Assault in Maine
After being brought to the jail, bail can be set. If you cannot afford your set bail, then you would wait in jail until you can be brought to Court to be seen by a Judge. Usually, people accused of domestic violence assault make bail. After making bail, the person is released under a number of mandatory bail conditions, including:
- No Contact with the alleged victim
- No use or possession of Alcohol or Illegal Drugs
- No possession of dangerous weapons, including all firearms
- Being subject to random searches and seizures of your person, home, and vehicle to assure that you are following your bail conditions
Some of these bail conditions can have significant collateral consequences for the person with these conditions. One common problem clients face is that they cannot go home as a result of the no contact condition. This means that even if the person is released from jail, their bail conditions prevent them from being able to return home. Instead, the person accused needs to find an alternate place to stay while the case is pending.
Another challenge can occur if the person owns firearms, such as sporting shotguns or rifles, commonly used in hunting game or shooting sports. The bail condition of no possession of dangerous weapons includes no possession of all firearms. This means that the accused person is required to give up their firearms temporarily while the case is pending. Often, the person will store the firearms with a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor until the case is resolved. Moreover, the firearms cannot be kept at the same place where the accused is residing while the case is pending. One common way that clients arrange things is to live with extended family and keep their guns with a friend.
How do I Modify Bail Conditions in a Domestic Violence Assault Case?
Bail conditions remain in effect until the criminal case has been resolved. Therefore, if one or more of the person’s bail conditions does not work for them, then a request needs to be made to modify the bail conditions with an official Court order. The request for a bail modification can be made by the defendant or their criminal defense attorney and submitted to the Court. A hearing is held regarding bail, which can be held at the same time as Arraignment, or a date soon thereafter. At the Bail Modification hearing, the Judge determines whether any of the bail conditions are modified.
If the bail conditions are not modified, and the person is found to be in violation of one or more of their bail conditions, that person can be charged with new criminal conduct for violating condition of release. A criminal charge for violating conditions of bail from domestic violence-related charge is also considered to be a domestic violence-related charge.
Court Procedure for Domestic Violence Assault in Maine
If you make Bail
If you made your bail set by the Bail Commissioner, then you would be given a Summons with an Arraignment date to appear at court. At Arraignment, you have the opportunity to answer to the charge in the form of Not Guilty after the Judge reads the charges to you. If there were any objectionable bail conditions to which you or your attorney filed a motion to modify over, then any issues pertaining to bail can be addressed at Arraignment, or set for a hearing at a later date.
If you do not make Bail
If you could not make the bail set by the Bail Commissioner, then you would sit in jail until you can be brought in front of a Judge to be Arraigned, usually within 48 hours. While standing before the Judge, the charges against you would be read, and you would have an opportunity to answer to the charge in the form of Not Guilty. At Arraignment, conditions of bail could also be reset.
When facing a charge for domestic violence assault in Maine, it is essential to enter a plea of Not Guilty at Arraignment. If you pled guilty, you would be convicted and sentenced without the State having to meet its burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The next significant court date in a domestic violence assault in Maine case is a dispositional hearing, called a Dispositional Conference or Docket Call. Here, the attorneys have the opportunity to discuss a potential resolution to the case without going to a trial. If the State’s case is weak in any way, Defense Counsel will emphasize the State’s weaknesses.
In several instances, the domestic violence charges might be reduced in the form of a plea deal or set aside pending the defendant’s good behavior over time. If after reviewing any negotiated offers the Defendant does not wish to accept the deal offered, then the case would proceed to Jury Selection and a Trial.
If after reviewing the State ’s evidence and the criminal defense attorney believes that some evidence might have been obtained in violation of your constitutional rights, then your criminal defense attorney would file an appropriate pretrial motion, such as a Motion to Suppress. A Motion to Suppress requests that the questionable evidence be suppressed (excluded) from trial. After briefs are filed, a Hearing is held where the Judge will decide whether or not the questionable evidence can be “suppressed.” If the defense is successful in this effort, this can result in parts of the State’s evidence out of evidence at trial.
In a domestic violence assault case, a trial is a very public proceeding, and many defendants choose to not go this far. If the defendant does choose to go to trial on a domestic violence charge, this choice should be supported by Defense Counsel and the facts and private investigation reports should favor the defendant.
Often, one question facing a defendant is whether to choose a jury trial or a trial in front of a Judge. For a jury, domestic violence can carry significant stigma, and so it might be difficult for some potential jurors to separate their personal and emotional biases from the case that is in front of them. During the jury selection process, the attorneys will try to exclude the potential jurors who might be biased in favor of one party or the other. Despite the attorney’s best efforts, sometimes, biased jurors slip through jury selection and onto the jury. For a Judge, the question is determined by the letter of the law. Either way, the outcome of the trial is the defendant is found guilty or not guilty by the fact finder. When you have a strong legal advocate, you have a better chance of resolving the charges before ever reaching a trial.
In situations like these, your character and future is at risk. Taking swift decisive action hiring a criminal defense attorney gives you an advocate who can provide counsel on the Maine legal system. There are proven strategies to defending domestic violence 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 seasoned 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 Domestic Violence assault in Maine has 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 domestic violence 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 Domestic Violence Assault in Maine, you may also want to read:
- About Domestic Violence in Maine
- Facing DV Criminal Threatening Charges? Here is a good overview.
- Do I have to be married to be accused of domestic violence in Maine?
- Can a simple push be considered Domestic Violence Assault?
- What if my spouse wants to drop the domestic violence charges?
- Is there a way to remove a No Contact Order (NCO) from my bail conditions in Maine?