Maine Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a criminal offense characterized by abusive, violent, threatening or intimidating behavior perpetrated by an offender against another person with whom the offender has a certain relationship. In the simplest of terms, the crime of domestic violence occurs when an offender assaults an intimate partner, a family member or a member of his or her household. Current and former spouses, domestic partners and sexual partners, people related to you by blood, and people you live with or used to live with, are all protected under Maine’s domestic violence laws, and if you commit an act of domestic violence against any of these individuals or anyone else with whom you have or formerly had a close relationship, you could end up facing misdemeanor or felony domestic violence assault charges. To mount the strongest possible defense in your Maine domestic violence case, contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Maine Domestic Violence Law
In the state of Maine, domestic violence is called “domestic violence assault,” and understanding the nature of this serious criminal offense requires an understanding of the crime of assault. Under Maine Revised Statutes 17-A § 207, a simple assault crime occurs when a person “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury or offensive physical contact to another person,” or when a person is at least 18 years of age and “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person who is less than 6 years of age.” According to MR Rev Stat 17-A § 207-A, Maine’s domestic violence assault statute, a person is guilty of domestic violence assault if he or she commits the crime of assault against a person who is a family or household member.
Family and Household Members
If you are accused of committing an assault crime in Maine and your relationship to the alleged victim falls under any of the following categories, you could be charged with domestic violence assault:
- Current or former spouses,
- Current or former domestic partners,
- Natural parents of the same child,
- Individuals who currently live together or who previously lived together,
- Adult household members related by blood,
- Individuals who currently are or who previously were sexual partners, or
- Minor children living in the same household as the adult offender.
Related Domestic Violence Crimes
There are a number of other criminal offenses in Maine that are closely related to domestic violence assault, including the following:
- Domestic violence aggravated assault (ME Rev Stat 17-A § 208-D)
- Domestic violence elevated aggravated assault (ME Rev Stat 17-A § 208-E)
- Domestic violence elevated aggravated assault on a pregnant person (ME Rev Stat 17-A § 208-F)
- Domestic violence criminal threatening (ME Rev Stat 17-A § 209-A)
- Domestic violence terrorizing (ME Rev Stat 17-A § 210-B)
- Domestic violence stalking (ME Rev Stat 17-A § 210-C)
- Domestic violence reckless conduct (ME Rev Stat 17-A § 211-A)
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Violence Assault
The criminal code in Maine imposes harsh penalties upon defendants convicted of domestic violence assault against family members or members of their household. Pursuant to ME Rev Stat 17-A § 207-A, domestic violence assault is generally charged as a Class D crime, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to $2,000 in fines. However, there are certain circumstances that can result in enhanced penalties for domestic violence assault. For instance, domestic violence assault can be charged as a Class C crime, a felony offense carrying a possible penalty of up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, if any of the following factors apply:
- The defendant has one or more prior convictions for domestic violence assault or any of the related domestic violence crimes mentioned above,
- The defendant has one or more prior convictions for violating a protective order,
- The defendant has one or more prior convictions for violating a condition of release when the alleged victim in that case was a family or household member, or
- The defendant has one or more prior convictions for aggravated assault, causing bodily injury with the use of a dangerous weapon, or causing bodily injury with extreme indifference to the value of human life, and the alleged victim was a family or household member.
Defense Against Domestic Violence Assault Charges
In any criminal case in Maine, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty and it is up to the prosecution to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. What that means is, just because you have been charged with domestic violence assault does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of the crime and sent to jail. In fact, the prosecution can only get a guilty verdict in your case if they can prove each of the following elements of the crime of domestic violence assault to the point that the judge and jurors have no doubt as to your guilt:
- You intentionally, knowingly or recklessly,
- Caused bodily injury, or
- Offensive physical contact to another person, and
- That person is a family or household member.
If your domestic violence defense attorney can present evidence that creates reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge or jury, you have a significantly better chance of securing an acquittal at trial. A criminal defense attorney with extensive experience defending clients against domestic violence assault charges will know which defense strategy is likely to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
Contact a Reputable Domestic Violence Assault Attorney for Help
Being charged with assault can be terrifying under any circumstances, but when the alleged victim is a family or household member, the stakes are significantly higher. That is why we always recommend enlisting the help of a domestic violence defense attorney when facing domestic violence assault charges in Maine. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could face misdemeanor or felony charges carrying a possible punishment of up to one year in jail or up to five years in prison, among other life-changing penalties, and a good defense attorney can provide valuable legal guidance based on your specific situation.