Groping or inappropriate touching is sexual assault. “Only touching” might seem less severe than Unlawful Sexual Contact or Gross Sexual Assault, but Unlawful Sexual Touching is a sex assault and a criminal charge. Even though this charge does not make you a felon or a sex offender, it can still ruin your good name and reputation in the “Court of public opinion.”
If you are facing charges of inappropriate sexual touching or groping, you do not want to set foot in a Maine courtroom alone. The District Attorney’s Office will not dismiss the case, and they will want you to plead guilty and get the permanent criminal conviction with all the long-term collateral consequences.
If anyone you know is facing charges for Unlawful Sexual Touching (UST) in Maine, contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
What is the Statute for Unlawful Sexual Touching?
Under 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 251, “Sexual Touching” is defined as any touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin, or inner thigh, either directly or through clothing for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire. Another way of saying “sexual touching” is “groping” or “molestation.”
What are the penalties for a Class D Misdemeanor Unlawful Sexual Touching?
Inappropriate sexual touching occurs under the following circumstances. 17-A M.R.S.A. Section 260. These cases are similar to those recognized in other sexual assaults, such as Unlawful Sexual Contact and Gross Sexual Assault:
In issues involving lack of consent, the victim typically:
- Has not consented to the sexual touching.
- Was compelled into the sexual touching.
- Was unconscious or otherwise unable to give consent.
- May suffer from a mental disability that makes them incapable of understanding that the sexual touching is inappropriate or that they can say no.
Issues with the age of the victim:
- The victim is of a certain age under 14 years old, and the defendant is at least 5 years older.
- The victim is a minor under 18 years old, and the defendant is that minor’s parent, step-parent, or guardian.
Issues with taking advantage authority:
- The defendant supervises the victim, who is on release from jail, bail, or probation. The victim can be an adult or a juvenile.
- The victim is a student, and the defendant is a teacher or other school employee.
- The victim is intellectually disabled or has autism, and is receiving services from an organization funded by DHHS. The defendant is employed by this organization.
- The defendant is or purports to be a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker, and the victim is a patient or client.
- The defendant is employed as a caregiver to the other person who is dependent on care because of advanced age or disability. The caregiver and the dependent person are not married.
A criminal charge in Maine for Unlawful Sexual Touching is a Class D misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for a Class D misdemeanor include up to $2,000.00 in fines and 364 days jail time.
What are the penalties for a Class E misdemeanor Unlawful Sexual Touching?
There is one situation where a charge for Unlawful Sexual Touching is the least severe class of crime in Maine, which is a Class E misdemeanor. In this situation, the other person is a minor less than 18 years old and a student enrolled in school, and the defendant is at least 21 years of age and a teacher or other school employee where the student is enrolled.
The penalties for a Class E misdemeanor conviction in Maine include up to $1,000.00 in fines and up to six months jail time.
Will be ok with UST conviction on your record?
Even if a conviction for UST is a misdemeanor in Maine, there are still serious consequences. Most significant is that inappropriate touching can still ruin a person’s reputation, even if the charges were not warranted. And misdemeanors can also appear on the more in depth background checks for employment.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help?
The District Attorney’s Office in Maine takes all sex crimes seriously, felonies and misdemeanors. The State will not dismiss the charge without a criminal defense attorney to advocate for you. The fact of the matter is that in sex crimes, often the State’s evidence is based only on the testimony of the victim, and potentially a statement from the defendant admitting to the criminal conduct. You will need a criminal defense attorney to help protect your reputation and your good name.
A significant part of representing those charged with committing a sex assault is refusing to take a bad plea offer or pleading guilty outright. A good criminal defense attorney will:
- Hear your concerns. At all times you should know the risks that a criminal charge will pose. And your attorney should know what issues concern you the most.
- Consider a private investigator. Sometimes it can be helpful to have a private investigator question potential witnesses that were not interviewed, and perhaps the victim to see if their stories have changed since the last time they gave a statement to police.
- Evaluate the reliability of the State’s witnesses. Could any part of the state’s star witness’s testimony be unreliable? It is important to check.
- Work towards a beneficial resolution. Your criminal defense attorney is your advocate.
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