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Maine Criminal Defense Attorney

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Criminal Defense Attorneys in Maine

Criminal Defense Lawyers in MaineAccording to the 2010 Maine Crime Report provided by Maine.gov, a crime is committed somewhere in the state every fifteen minutes and ten seconds. Criminal charges are a common occurrence, but many people are unaware of the lasting impact that a criminal conviction will have on their future. If you have been accused of a crime for the first time, you may be wondering what can be done to avoid conviction and these harsh penalties?

Our Maine criminal defense lawyers are determined to help you through the frightening process of the criminal justice system. We focus exclusively on criminal defense law and have provided this helpful information so that you can understand the charges brought against you and the precise laws that may protect your rights. Click any of the links below to learn more about a specific criminal offense.

The criminal justice system is prone to errors, and every convicted defendant has the right to file an appeal of their sentence. Winning a criminal appeal can be difficult because you must be able to prove that a substantial and prejudicial error was committed during the course of your trial, as errors that are “harmless” do not qualify.

Common Types of Criminal Defense Cases in Maine

DUI / OUI Charges

It is illegal to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol or with a BAC of 0.08% or greater in Maine; there are harsh penalties even for those who are convicted for the first time. From breathalyzer tests to field sobriety tests, there are numerous methods that police officers use to charge someone with a DUI, and challenging these methods is the best way to defeat your charges.

Drug Crimes

Crimes involving illegal or controlled substances in the state of Maine include drug possession, trafficking, cultivation of drugs, and prescription fraud. Over 5,345 adults and 567 juveniles were arrested for drug charges in Maine in 2009, and the penalties under the law for these offenses are severe.

Probation Violation

Nearly 35% of all state prison admissions in 2006 were offenders who returned to jail as a result of probation violations. If you have been accused of violating the terms of your probation, you must take swift action to protect your rights and avoid suffering the penalties of your original offense.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence arrests accounted for 45.1% of all arrests in Maine in 2010. It is relatively easy to accuse someone of domestic violence, and those who are wrongfully accused may have a difficult time saving their reputation, relationships and career. Thankfully, there is a way to challenge domestic violence charges.

Sex Crimes

As soon as an individual is convicted of certain sex crimes in Maine, they are required to register as a sex offender in the national registry and report on where they live, work and go to school. Sex offender registration is extremely detrimental to one’s future, and those who are accused of sex crimes must do everything in their power to avoid a conviction.

White Collar Crimes

White-collar crimes include a full range of fraudulent activities committed by business and government professionals. From credit card fraud to embezzlement and identity theft, these non-violent crimes have the potential to destroy the career and reputation of the one who has been accused of committing them.

Juvenile Criminal Offenses

Individuals who have committed a crime will be tried in juvenile court up to the age of eighteen, but juveniles may also be tried as adults in certain situations. The effects of a juvenile conviction may carry over into other aspects of the juvenile’s life and may affect future employment, driver’s licensing privileges, and public benefits.

Theft Crimes

According to the Maine Department of Public Safety, a robbery was committed every 21 hours in Maine during the year of 2010. Robbery, burglary and other property theft crimes are on the rise throughout the entire state, and various District Attorney offices are aggressively prosecuting suspected offenders. The penalties for theft crimes can include lengthy prison time, especially if aggravating circumstances are involved.

Violent Crimes

The classification of violent crimes in Maine ranges from Class D misdemeanors to Class A felonies. Murder, manslaughter, assault, criminal threatening, stalking and terrorizing are but a few of the violent crimes that one can be accused of.

Weapons Charges

The gun laws in Maine regulate the possession, sale, and use of firearms and ammunition throughout the state. Maine allows for the concealed carry of a weapon upon the issue of a permit from the local or state police, and it is unlawful to carry any firearm concealed without this permit. In addition to federal gun laws, Maine state laws also prohibit people from carrying guns for other reasons as well.

Federal Charges

Individuals who are accused of federal crimes will likely be under investigation from federal agencies such as the FBI or DEA. Federal drug cases, Social Security fraud, federal gun charges, and federal probation violations are but a few of the federal offenses that one can be charged within Maine, and many cyber-crimes are handled by federal agencies as well.

How does a civil case differ from a criminal case in Maine?

A criminal case in Maine generally involves a witness or victim reporting the offense to a law enforcement officer – or a law enforcement officer stopping an individual.

The State will then decide whether to file criminal charges against the accused, based on the requirement to maintain order in society, provide justice for the victim, rehabilitate the accused, protect the public, and to deter other potential offenders.

For a case to proceed, a prosecutor or a Grand Jury must approve the charges. 

The criminal case will be known as “State of Maine v. Defendant” and, if the prosecution proves guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt”, a jail sentence may be handed down by the judge. The freedom of the accused is at stake, so the burden of proof is necessarily high.

A civil case is very different. It can be brought by one or more individuals to resolve a dispute, such as a divorce, breach of contract or landlord-tenant disputes. Jail terms are not possible penalties in such cases.

The person who initiates the lawsuit is known as the “plaintiff” and in order to win the civil case, it must be demonstrated by “a preponderance of the evidence” that he or she is in the right. 

The burden of proof is, therefore, lower in a civil case than a criminal case, where “beyond a reasonable doubt” is used.

How does probation differ from parole?

Probation and parole are often confused but are actually very different. 

Probation is a specific period of time during which a person found guilty of a criminal offense in Maine must report to his or her probation officer

The officer is responsible for supervising the offender during this period, with a set of specific conditions imposed by the court that the offender must observe closely. 

The offender must commit no further criminal activity to avoid probation being revoked and returning to jail.

Parole, on the other hand, is an early release from a prison sentence imposed on a person found guilty of a crime. 

During this period, the released offender will be monitored and, if the conditions of their parole are broken, they may be readmitted to jail.

Note that Maine no longer imposes sentences with “eligibility for parole”. However, if you are convicted of a crime and sent to jail, you may qualify for “good time” credits. These may add up to an early release from a jail sentence.

Sometimes, probation follows a jail sentence. This is known as a “split sentence”. This involves a period of time served and a “suspended” sentence for a specific period afterwards. Perhaps the confusion between probation and parole stems from this.

What’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in a criminal case?

For many years, crimes in Maine were classified as follows:

  • Felonies – the most serious crimes punishable by one year or more in prison 
  • Misdemeanors – less serious crimes punishable by one year or less in jail 

However, unlike in most states around the U.S., these classifications are no longer used in Maine. Instead, crimes are classified in the following five categories:

  • Class E: Crimes punishable by up to six months incarceration and a $1,000 fine
  • Class D: Crimes punishable by up to 364 days incarceration and a $2,000 fine
  • Class C: Crimes punishable by up to 5 years’ incarceration and a $5,000 fine
  • Class B: Crimes punishable by up to ten years’ incarceration and a $20,000 fine
  • Class A: Crimes punishable by up to 30 years’ incarceration and a $50,000 fine 

For some specific crimes, there are guidelines outside of the above. Murder, for instance, is unclassified and punishable by between 25 years and life imprisonment. 

Examples of felonies in Maine

Most criminal offenses in Maine are considered “misdemeanors” and only the most serious crimes detailed in Classes A and B are considered “felonies” (as well as murder, which has been covered already).

A few examples of relatively common felonies include:

Is operating under the influence (OUI) considered a criminal offense in Maine? 

In Maine, operating under the influence (OUI) is the term used for the offense of driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08% or over.

This is a criminal offense and it can stay on both your criminal record and driving record permanently. 

Despite popular belief, it doesn’t expire after a certain time period and it can continue to negatively impact employment, financial matters, and freedom of travel for the rest of your life. 

These long-term consequences are in addition to the immediate penalties, such as an automatic license suspension, substantial fines, and even a possible jail sentence.

That’s why it’s imperative to seek experienced legal representation to defend OUI charges in Maine.

Can I have my criminal record expunged in Maine?

There is no provision within Maine law for the expungement of adult criminal records – with only one exception.

That is for convictions for Class E crimes (the least serious criminal offenses) committed by people aged 18 to 21 years old at the time of the offense.

Expungement of Class E convictions for youthful offenders

A few examples of Class E crimes include:

  • Operating on a suspended license
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Theft under $1,000

If you were between the ages of 18 and 21 when you were convicted of such a crime, you may petition the court for an expungement providing you meet the following conditions:

  • You wait four years after completing all terms of your sentence
  • There are no other convictions on your record
  • No other charges against you have been dismissed as a result of deferred disposition
  • You have not committed a juvenile crime for which the hearing was open to the public
  • No other charges are pending against you
  • Your crime was not of a sexual nature

Contact a Maine Criminal Defense Attorney today!

Criminal accusations carry serious repercussions and when such aggressive charges are placed on you, you need equally aggressive attorneys like The Maine Criminal Defense Group to protect your rights and civil liberty. Regardless of whether you have been accused of a Class E misdemeanor crime or a Class A felony crime, you should never be without legal representation in the courtroom. When you contact a criminal defense attorney about your case, make sure that the attorney has handled similar cases before and ask for information on their past case results. Our Maine criminal defense attorneys for your case will have a thorough understanding of the law and a passion for proving your innocence or helping clients obtain the most favorable outcomes. Contact us today for a consultation. We have locations throughout the state including Biddeford and Portland.

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