Being accused of Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening in Maine means that the state charges the offender purposely made a family or household member fearful of being physically hurt. Domestic Violence Criminal Threating is typically a misdemeanor if it is the first Domestic Violence Offense. The charge can be complicated by other aggravating factors and if you have had any other prior convictions of domestic violence or if made the threat with the use of a dangerous weapon.
I am an experienced DV defense attorney in Maine. I have handled many Domestic Violence cases all across Maine, from first offenses to felony domestic violence with multiple priors. In Maine, if you are charged with Domestic Violence, any prior Domestic Violence related offenses increase the severity of the pending charge. A common example would be a charge of Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening with a DV prior. Overall, with your second charge of Domestic Violence in Maine, whether or not Criminal Threatening, the stakes are higher, with a higher fine of up to $5000.00 and a jail sentence of up to 5 years. With your second Domestic Violence charge, the District Attorney is not likely to be sympathetic. It is just vital that you have the legal counsel you need to help mitigate the risks with this problem.
As we talk about the details of your case at the free consultation, one of things we discuss is the line in the sand. If you choose my firm to represent you, we are going to draw a line in the sand. On our side of the line is your future how you envision it to be. On the other side of the line is the Portland District Attorney, with their charges, penalties and potential jail time. Also the repercussions a conviction will have on your marriage, where you live, and your ability to get a job, or keep your existing profession.
As your lawyer, we will do everything in our power to stop them from crossing that line. We will fight for you using all of our passion, conviction, and influence.
Given my decade of experience, this article is to help answer some of your questions about being accused of Domestic Violence Criminal Threating in Maine and how a Maine DV criminal defense attorney can help defend you against the charge. We will review:
- How Domestic Violence Criminal Threating in Maine is proven?
- Is the charge of Domestic Violence Criminal Threating a misdemeanor or a felony?
- What are the penalties if convicted of Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening?
- Understanding the typical restraints on your freedom while you are on bail
- Understanding the impacts to your rights to bear arms in Maine
- How a Maine DV Defense Attorney can help?
- What is the Maine Court Process for DV Misdemeanor charges?
How Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening in Maine is proven?
The good thing about the law is that the state has the “burden of proof”. The Law for Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening in Maine is statute 17-A §209-A. In order to prove you are guilty of the charge, the state must show evidence that the accused:
- Intentionally or Knowingly placed
- A family or household member
- In fear of imminent bodily injury
Taking a hard look at each of the pieces:
State of Mind
Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening in Maine has a state of mind element. The Maine Statutes provide definitions to what the words intentionally and knowingly mean:
- Intentionally: A person acts intentionally with respect to a result of the person’s conduct when it is the person’s conscious object to cause such a result. A person acts intentionally with respect to attendant circumstances when the person is aware of the existence of such circumstances or believes that they exist.
- Knowingly: A person acts knowingly with respect to a result of the person’s conduct when the person is aware that it is practically certain that the person’s conduct will cause such a result. A person acts knowingly with respect to attendant circumstances when the person is aware that such circumstances exist.
The take away point here is that the state of mind of the accused matters with this charge. It is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove that the accused acted with purpose. It was not an accident or reckless behavior. The accused purposefully meant the threat.
A Family or Household Member
Maine defines domestic relationships beyond just a spouse. Family or household member is not limited to family blood relatives or your current spouse. For example, let’s say you were in a previous sexual relationship. It was short maybe a week at most. You quickly realized the person was let’s say nicely, “just not for you”. According to the law, you will always be considered in a domestic relationship with them if you had sex with the person (Even after the relationship ends). Additional “Household” members often include:
- Current and former spouses
- Current and former domestic partners
- Adult household members
- Biological Parents of the same child
- Dating or Sexual Partners
In fear of imminent bodily injury
The Maine Law definition for bodily injury can be found in 17-A §2(5)
- Bodily Injury: “Bodily injury” means physical pain, physical illness or any impairment of physical condition.
In a nutshell, if the victim was scared you were going to hurt them or harm them physically, Those actions qualify as Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening.
Is the charge of Domestic Violence Criminal Threating a misdemeanor or a felony?
Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening Charge can either be a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon if you have had previous criminal convictions. If this is your first domestic violence offense, you will be facing a class D misdemeanor charge unless the State alleges the use of a dangerous weapon.
The severity of the charge increases to a felony if within the last ten years you were convicted of domestic violence charges. These convictions can be anywhere – inside or outside of Maine. The specific list of prior domestic violence offenses which increase the penalty are:
- Domestic Violence Assault
- Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening
- Domestic Violence Terrorizing
- Domestic Violence Stalking
- Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct
- Violation of a Protective Order (VPO)
- Violation of condition of release specifically avoiding contact with Household or family member
- Violation of condition of release specifically possessing a firearm
What are the penalties if convicted of Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening?
Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening 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 Domestic Violence Conviction
If the accused already has at least one domestic violence conviction, the accused will be facing a Class C felony charges. The sentencing for this class C felony often includes:
- include up to $5,000.00 in fines
- maximum jail time of up to 5 years
- Mandated completion of a 48 week Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program (CBIPs)
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.
Understanding the typical restraints on your freedom while you are on bail
If you are able to set bail, being charged with Domestic Violence criminal threatening in Maine causes some mandatory bail conditions. These bail conditions are:
- 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 complying with you bail conditions
No contact with the alleged victim
No contact basically means no contact. If the victim is living in your house, you need to find another place to stay. If the victim goes to the kid’s Friday night football game, you cannot go.
No use or possession of Alcohol or Illegal Drugs
You lose your right to drink alcohol while out on bail. You shouldn’t go to the bar or have a few brews with friends. No drinking or owning alcohol or illegal drugs that is the condition.
No possession of dangerous weapons, including firearms
You will need to have a friend gather your firearms and keep them at their house. Not your house or your place of temporary residence. Not even a storage unit that you rent. Guns and other weapons need to be in your friend’s possession.
Random Searches and Seizure
These are significant conditions. Do not be surprised if suddenly your temporary residence is being search to assure there is not any alcohol, drugs, or dangerous weapons in your possession.
Understanding the impacts to your rights to bear arms in Maine
Under the law, “dangerous weapons” includes all firearms, as well as all sporting firearms. If you are accused of domestic violence, you are not permitted to own any firearms. If you do have them at the time of your arrest, once out on bail, you will be required to store them with the police, give away or sell their firearms. This goes for the entire length of time your case is in Court. Quite often, the accused will store their firearms with a trusted family member, friend or even neighbor until the case is resolved. The key thing to remember is that the firearms cannot be kept where you are staying while fighting these charges. So if you are living with an extended family member, do not store the firearms at that house.
If you are convicted of the domestic violence criminal threatening charge, you are forbidden from possessing firearms. You lose your Second Amendment rights. Federal law (18 U.S.C. § 922[g][1-9]) forbids the possession of firearms, ammunition or explosives. The penalty for violating this law is ten years jail time and up to a $250,000 fine.
How a Maine DV Defense Attorney can help?
As you have read, domestic violence is a very serious change. If the kids witnessed the incident, it is more despicable in the eyes of Law enforcement and District Attorney’s Office. Frankly, if you are facing these charges hire a DV criminal defense attorney and get yourself some help – the sooner the better. 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. Here are some common defense approaches I often explore when representing someone charged with domestic violence criminal threatening 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 criminal threatening 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 criminal threatening 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 threat intentional or knowing? Or was someone just frustrated and trying to get away from the escalating argument?
What is the Portland Maine Court Process for Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening charges?
Another area your DV Defense attorney can help is to go over the court process and legal procedure, so you know what to expect. In Portland Maine, the Court uses the Unified Criminal Docket which I’ll review to give you a frame of reference on what to expect and how an attorney can assist you in fighting this charge. If yoru case arises out side of Cumberland County, your matter may still be on the Distirct/Superior Court system. As always if you have any questions, please give me a call and I will be happy to explain the process to you.
Arrest for Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening in Maine
In an arrest for domestic violence criminal threatening in Maine, often the police receive a call to respond to a domestic abuse situation. Typically the 911 call comes from either the victim or a concerned neighbor. Too often domestic violence cases arise from an argument which gets out of hand.
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 victim will need to explain how you threatened them and how the victim was certain you were about to act. If after conferring, and the officers have grounds for probable cause that one of the parties committed domestic violence criminal threatening, then that person would be arrested and taken into custody.
How do I Modify Bail Conditions in a Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening 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 a domestic violence-related charge.
Court Procedure for Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening in Portland 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 criminal threatening 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 criminal threatening in Maine case is a dispositional hearing, called a Dispositional Conference. 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 criminal threatening 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.
Contact a Maine DV Defense Attorney
When you are facing a Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening Offense, your lifestyle is at risk. Taking swift action to have an aggressive experienced DV attorney helping you navigate the Maine legal system and assure there is minimal impact to your future. There are proven strategies to defending a domestic violence Offense.
If you or someone you know is charged with a domestic violence crime in Maine such as DV criminal threatening, 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 Criminal Threatening, you may also want to read: