Sexual charges are aggressively investigated. A common tactic used in a sex offense investigation is for the police officer to stage a “confrontation” to get the accused to be frustrated and reactive. In Maine, sexual assault, such as rape, is a sex crime as well as a violent crime. Often, being charged with rape in Maine is a Class A felony, which is the most severe class of crime in Maine.
If charged with Sexual Assault or rape, you are facing very serious consequences. If convicted, you would become a felon. Felon status is permanent. Also, you would be required to register as a sex offender under Maine’s SORNA law. Sexual assault could mean either 25 years or a lifetime registering as a sex offender. If you are labeled as a sex offender, you will have a bad reputation that your community will know.
If you are facing a criminal charge for sexual assault in Maine, do not go to Court alone. You will want an experienced sex crimes criminal defense lawyer to defend your case. The District Attorney’s Office will not dismiss the charge, and they will not negotiate with you. For the aggressive advocacy you need, contact The Nielsen Group for your legal consultation with an experienced sex crime criminal lawyer.
If you are accused of Gross Sexual Assault, you may be trying to determine the impacts this charge will have. Let’s take a moment to review what you can anticipate if you are accused of a Maine Gross Sexual Assault offense and what you can do to aid in your defense:
- What are the Myths About Gross Sexual Assault?
- What is the statute for Gross Sexual Assault in Maine?
- What are the penalties for Gross Sexual Assault in Maine?
- How can a Sex Crime Defense Attorney help?
Let us know if you have any questions that we did not cover in this article. We will give you an honest assessment of your case in our initial consultation.
What are the Myths About Gross Sexual Assault?
Before I outline the criminal statute for sexual assault, I would like to dispel some misconceptions someone might have if facing a sexual assault charge for the first time:
- Myth: “The
victim is lying!” Because of this, the
jury will find me not guilty.
- Reality: It is harder than you might think to prove that the victim is lying. At Trial, the Jury’s job is to find whether you are guilty. The victim’s guilt or innocent is not at issue here. If you attack the victim’s credibility too hard at Trial, this can backfire. In the era of MeToo, the Jury might take your attacking the victim to mean that you are the guilty one.
- Myth: The
charge of sexual assault is way out of proportion. All I need to do is tell the District
Attorney that the charge is unreasonable and they will dismiss the charge.
- Reality: If you go it alone with the District Attorney at Court, all they will do is say you should plead guilty. If you do plead guilty, you would have to deal with all of the collateral consequences of the conviction. Instead, your criminal defense lawyer should be doing the arguing for you at Court.
- Myth: If
there is no DNA evidence, they cannot charge me with sexual assault.
- Reality: Real life is not like TV crime dramas. In the real world, DNA evidence is often not available. And in Maine, the State does not need DNA evidence to win a sexual assault conviction against you. More often than not, a sexual assault case at Court is a “he said, she said” matter.
What is the Statute for Gross Sexual Assault in Maine?
The statute for sexual assault in Maine is called Gross Sexual Assault Statute 17-A MRSA Section 253. Under the criminal law, rape is always a felony. If convicted of a felony, you become a felon. Felon status is permanent. Maine does not allow for felony convictions to be excused or expunged after the fact. As a felon, a person faces difficulties in life and work opportunities. And felons lose permanently their right to use or possess firearms. If that felony is for sexual assault, the collateral consequences also require registering as a sex offender under SORNA. Almost all rape sexual assault offenses in Maine are Tier 2 or Tier 3 offenses under Maine’s sex offender registry law. For more information about Maine’s Sex Offender Law, please see my related article.
In a rape, there is a “sexual act” that takes place. The statute defines a “sexual act” as direct physical contact of genitals (penetration is not required), as well as oral and anal sex. The State of Maine recognizes sexual assault within a broad range of circumstances, including certain special relationships, such as teachers and caregivers. In a rape offense, generally there is no consent. However, there can be consent, but the offense is still rape under the law, also known as Statutory Rape. These are situations where the victim is of a young age.
Rape as a sexual assault can be aggravated or made worse by certain factors:
- Having prior offenses for rape on your record.
- The incident occurred within a school “safe zone.”
If the charge is made worse by prior convictions, then a new conviction would carry mandatory jail:
- 4 years mandatory jail if there is a prior conviction for a Class A rape.
- 2 years mandatory jail if there is a prior conviction for a Class B rape.
- 1 years mandatory jail if there is a prior conviction for a Class C rape.
Is there a statute of limitations for a Rape Case in Maine?
No, there is no statute of limitations for rape charges in Maine. Therefore, an individual could be charged with gross sexual assault regardless of the amount of time that has passed since the alleged incident occurred.
What are the penalties for Gross Sexual Assault?
Gross Sexual Assault has many legal considerations that help to evaluate the charge placed on a defendant. These considerations examine:
- Were drugs or alcohol used to weaken the other person’s objections?
- Were threats made against the other person? Were the threats violent or an abuse of power?
- Was the other person alert or did the other person lose consciousness?
- Was the other person above the age of consent?
The next section of this article reviews all 3 classes of Sexual Assault in Maine starting with the most severe a class A and ending with a class C the least severe.
What is the punishment for a Class A Sexual Assault?
Gross Sexual Assault (GSA) is a Class A felony when:
- The defendant uses physical force or violence to force the victim into a sexual act.
- When the victim is under the age of 14.
A Class A felony is the worst class of crime in Maine. If convicted of a Class A felony, the maximum punishment includes up to $50,000.00 in fines and up to thirty (30) years jail time.
What is the punishment for a Class B Sexual Assault?
Class B felony occurs for Gross Sexual Assault when:
- Using violence or the threat of violence,
- The defendant uses an intoxicant, such as drugs or alcohol, to prevent the victim from resisting the sexual act.
- The defendant threatens the victim into a sexual act.
- The victim is physically incapable of giving
consent or resisting.
- The victim is unconscious or drugged.
- The victim has a mental disability that makes them incapable of understanding the nature of the sexual act or that they can say no. This mental disability is apparent to the defendant.
- There is an abuse of power or authority:
- When the defendant is a probation officer or having authority over the victim, who is a probationer, parolee, or on supervised release.
- When the victim is a child under 18 and the defendant is the child’s parent, step-parent, guardian, or other similar person responsible for the long-term care and welfare of the child.
If convicted of a Class B felony, the maximum punishment includes up to $20,000.00 in fines and up to ten (10) years jail time. There is also a minimum required jail sentence for a Class B gross sexual assault aggravated conviction of two (2) years jail time.
What is the punishment for a Class C Sexual Assault?
In the following situations, rape is a Class C felony:
- When the sexual assault is a violation of a
- The victim is a student, and the defendant is a teacher, employee, or other school official with authority over the student.
- The victim is younger than 18 and at a child care facility, home, or camp, and the defendant is a teacher, employee, or other person with authority over the victim.
- The victim is a mental health patient (not married to the defendant), and the defendant is a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed social worker.
- When the victim is dependent upon the
defendant’s care for daily living:
- The victim has an intellectual or mental disability in a program or residence funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the defendant owns, operates, or is employed by this organization.
- When the victim is of advanced age or disability, and the defendant is employed to care for that depended person. The victim and defendant are not spouses or domestic partners.
If convicted of a Class C felony, the maximum punishment includes up to $5,000.00 in fines and up to five (5) years jail time. If convicted of an aggravated charge for gross sexual assault, there is a mandatory jail sentence of one (1) year.
Are there Immigration Collateral Consequences for Sexual Assault?
If you are convicted of a criminal charge in Maine, and your jail sentence is one year or more, this could trigger immigration-related consequences for non-US citizens. When contemplating the immigration consequences, the government will consider the total sentence imposed by the Court. It will not count the shorter “suspended” sentence for deportation proceedings. For example, if you were sentenced to a full 18 months jail but due to a “suspended” sentence were required to serve only 6 months, you would still face deportation proceedings. Because of this risk, it is all the more important to hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent you at Court.
What other consequences can be experienced from a Rape Conviction?
Being convicted of a felony sex crime in Maine, you can expect to also experience:
- Registering as a sex offender
- Inability to own guns
- Limited choices on where you can live.
- Challenges to getting employment
- Challenges getting into college or masters degree program
- Inability to obtain certain professional licenses
- Impact on pending family cases such as custody of children
These impacts would exist for your entire life. There is a life long stigma of a sex crime conviction.
How Can a Sex Crime Defense Attorney Help?
A sex crime defense attorney is essential to preserving your future. If convicted, a rape charge can risk not only jail time, but also potential status as felon and a sex offender. The State takes sex crimes very seriously. The State does not resolve these cases quickly or easily. Important elements of a good defense attorney for a charge of GSA in Maine include:
- Listen to the Client’s Concerns. As a criminal defendant, a charge of GSA can be life-changing, and facing the charge can be extremely stressful. It is important for a criminal defense attorney to listen to the defendant and their concerns, as well as to keep them informed about the risks that they are facing in their case.
- Consider expert evaluation for sexual issues. Sometimes it can be helpful to address the State’s concerns about the likelihood of the defendant to re-offend by obtaining a sex offender evaluation from a qualified expert. A sex criminal defense attorney should be able to refer you to an appropriate expert for your case.
- Critically evaluate the State’s witnesses. A good sex crime defense attorney will review the State’s case in detail. Are there any issues with the State’s witnesses? Is the reporting from law enforcement consistent with the statutory definitions of the charge?
- Advocate for resolution that avoids the worst consequences. Above all, a criminal defense lawyer is an advocate. This means arguing for your interests, including avoiding the most severe consequences, such as sex offender registration under SORNA. And it means not accepting the first offer to resolve the case from the State, and instead advocating for the best possible outcome for the client.
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