Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct in Maine is among the crimes categorized as a domestic violence-specific crime. Other crimes in this group are Domestic Violence Assault, Domestic Violence Criminal Threatening, Domestic Violence Terrorizing and Domestic Violence Stalking. The District Attorney’s office and all Maine law enforcement take any domestic violence crime 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 reckless conduct in Maine. Let’s take a look at what the prosecution needs to prove beyond all reasonable doubt when charging someone with committing domestic violence reckless conduct in Maine.
I am an experienced DV defense attorney in Maine. I have successfully 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 Reckless Conduct with a DV prior. Overall, with your second charge of Domestic Violence in Maine, whether or not Reckless Conduct, 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.
If you are charged with Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct in Maine, here are some things you need to know including how you can help your defense.
- How can you be arrested for Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct?
- What is the Maine law for Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct?
- What are the penalties for a Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct Conviction?
- How can a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Help?
- What are the common outcomes to a Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct charge?
- What is the Maine court process for Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct?
How can you be arrested for Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct?
Here is the story of Fred and Wilma, whom although they are fictional, the charge of Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct and the possible consequences upon conviction are very real. Following the story of Fred and Wilma will help to understand how Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct in Maine is handled by the police, district attorney and courts.
Fred and Wilma were arguing about their son’s behavior problems at home and at school. Fred Jr. had been skipping school to hang out with his friends and experiment with marijuana and alcohol. And Junior has been defiant at home, ignoring his curfew and being an overall difficult teenager to parent. Fred and Wilma were at a loss as to what to do with him.
Fred and Wilma went to Fred’s woodworking workshop in the garage where they could discuss some solution to deal with their seemingly impossible son. Wilma suggested a “hands off” approach, to let their son face the consequences of his actions when he gets caught by police. Junior wasn’t taking them seriously, but maybe he would “shape up” if he heard it from a police officer. Fred took a long piece of wood and yelled “this is what I want to do to Junior!” and with that he threw the piece of wood as though he wanted to hit junior with it. But when Fred threw the piece of wood, it bounced off the table and, accidentally hit Wilma in the upper arm. Wilma toppled over to the ground. Hearing his parents yelling outside, Junior came out to see what was going on. Junior saw his dad with the piece of wood in his hands and his mom lying on the ground. Junior cried “Mom!” and then ran inside to call the police. When the police came to the house, Fred was arrested for Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct.
In Maine, the severity of the charge for domestic violence reckless conduct is increased if the accused has any prior convictions of domestic violence.
- What conditions need to be met to qualify with being charged with the First Offense of Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct in Maine.
- In your criminal record, you cannot have any other prior convictions for domestic violence.
- There is evidence of reckless conduct. Where the accused has recklessly created substantial risk to cause bodily injury to a family or household member.
How is Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct Proven?
In Maine, Reckless Conduct (17-A M.R.S.A. Sec 211) is defined as when a person “recklessly creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to another person.” When the victim of the reckless conduct is considered a “household or family member” (17-A M.R.S.A. Sec 211-A), then the charge is Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct. In this case, Fred created a risk to Wilma by swinging that wood around like a bat.
What are the penalties for Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct in Maine?
For a first offense, Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct is a Class D misdemeanor. If convicted of a Class D misdemeanor, the maximum penalties include up to $2,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days jail time.
If the offense is a second or subsequent domestic violence-related crime, the charge of Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct would be a Class C felony. If convicted of a Class C felony, the maximum penalties include up to $5,000.00 in fines and up to five (5) years jail time.
How a Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
In Maine, the District Attorneys have a policy of prosecuting all domestic violence cases, regardless of whether the facts present a good case or not. If Fred does not fight the charges, then he could easily get mowed over by the State’s desire to prosecute and end up with a criminal record. At Court, the District Attorney will not negotiate a resolution with Fred if he does not have a criminal defense attorney in his corner.
Here are some of the ways that a domestic violence criminal defense attorney can help fight the charge of Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct against Fred:
- A good set of facts for advocacy outside of the courtroom. Since in Fred’s case, his frustration was really towards his son, and not towards Wilma. Wilma resisted the police pressing charges, but the police arrested and charged Fred anyway. This set of facts could suggest that the situation was indeed an “accident,” that the charges should be dropped. This is an example of the type of negotiation that could go on behind the scenes with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney arguing directly to the District Attorney.
- Definition of DV Reckless Conduct is Vague. With the statutory definition of domestic violence reckless conduct being non-specific. A variety of different circumstances could fit the bill outside of what happened in Fred’s wood shop. A criminal defense attorney knows this and can use this in the course of arguing for a better resolution.
- Did the police respect Fred’s constitutional rights upon investigating? Even when police arrive at a situation that could be a domestic violence situation, they still need to respect the accused’s constitutional rights when conducting their investigation. Did the police “lean on” Fred too hard in order to get him to say what they wanted him to before reading him his right to remain silent?
Outcomes for Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct
In a case like Fred’s, here are some of the likely outcomes to his case in court.
Trial Verdict– The best way to test the State’s evidence is to take the case all the way to a trial for your day in court. Why not make the State prove its case against you? If the State can’t prove its case, then you are acquitted of the charges. Furthermore, when the District Attorney sees that you are standing up for yourself, you might get finally get a good plea offer if they know that their case is weak. Or, you will reveal the State’s weaknesses at Trial, and perhaps even convince the jury of your innocence.
Plead Guilty to a Lesser Charge– Fred could decide to plead guilty to a lesser charge if one is offered by the State’s attorney. For example, a “lesser charge” in the case of a domestic violence reckless conduct charge could be a Disorderly Conduct conviction, which is considered a low-level misdemeanor, and it also lacks the domestic violence element.
Note: Before Fred, or anyone else for that matter, enters any guilty pleas, it is important to note that this should be done only under the advice of a criminal defense attorney. And, it is necessary for the person entering the guilty plea to understand the long-term effects of the conviction going on their criminal record, and not just the short-term sentence.
Plea Agreement Deferring Outcome– In the alternative, since Fred has no criminal record to speak of, his criminal defense attorney could possibly advocate for an outcome that defers the matter for a period of time, such as a filing agreement or a Deferred Disposition. In the case of a deferred disposition, Fred would have to meet a number of specific requirements demanded by the State as a condition of meeting his plea agreement. In this type of case, Fred would probably undergo some counseling for possible anger management issues, which may be appropriate in this situation.
Court Process for Domestic Violence Reckless Conduct
Here is the court process for a first offense domestic violence reckless conduct charge out of the Unified Criminal Docket in Portland.
Arraignment and Bail
All Domestic Violence cases in Maine carry certain mandatory bail conditions, such as no contact with the victim. If Fred defendant wishes to change any of his bail conditions then this issue can be addressed with the Court at the defendant’s Arraignment. At Arraignment, you answer to the charge in the form of Not Guilty. Also at Arraignment, you can expect to receive a copy of the police reports, also known as discovery.
A dispositional hearing is a court date that determines whether your domestic violence case will be going to trial. At the Dispositional Conference, the attorneys meet to negotiate a potential resolution without going to a trial. As the defendant, Jake would be able to accept or reject any offers to resolve the case.
If Fred finds the resolution acceptable, then he would accept the plea offer, and no further court dates would be necessary. But if no resolution reached at the Dispositional Conference was acceptable, then Jake’s case would progress to a pretrial hearing and a trial.
Pretrial Motion Hearing
If the discovery shows that certain evidence could have been obtained in violation of Fred’s constitutional rights, then his criminal defense lawyer would file an appropriate pretrial Motion to Suppress. The purpose of a Pretrial Motion Hearing is to resolve any issues pertaining to the evidence before trial.
A trial is a person’s very public day in court. In domestic violence cases, many defendants choose to not go this far. If the defendant intends to have a trial, the criminal defense lawyer should support this choice, and the facts of the case should favor the defendant’s version of events.
Often, defendants face the question whether to have a jury trial or a trial in front of a judge. The judge decides cases based on the letter of the law. However, the jury often can see thing from a Defendants point of view and put themselves in your shoes and reach “reasonable doubt”.
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.
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