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Violation of Protective Orders in Maine

Protection from Abuse Violations Defense Lawyers in Maine

Protective orders are usually issued by Maine courts after a Protection from Abuse (PFA) or Protection from Harassment (PFH) hearing at which a civil protection request is made.

These orders are designed to protect an individual from further threats or harm. Often, PFA orders result from incidents of domestic violence. Even a momentary loss of temper can have serious consequences if a spouse reports an incident of abuse and obtains a PFA order.

Violating such an order is viewed as a serious offense that can lead to a trial by jury and jail time.

For an order to be issued, the subject of the order is already deemed a credible threat to another person. Then, to disobey the court makes the ramifications even more serious.

Violations can result in a lifelong criminal record, which is often an unpleasant surprise for individuals because the original complaint may have been civil but criminal penalties result from a violation of the order.

If you have been charged with violation of a protective order, contact the experienced lawyers at The Maine Criminal Defense Group for an initial consultation on how you may be able to avoid an unwanted criminal record.

Table of Contents


What are the violation of protective order laws in Maine?

In Maine, the Violation of Protective Order laws cover both Protection from Abuse cases and Protection from Harassment cases.

However, punishments for the crimes are not the same.

In Protection from Harassment cases, a Violation of the Protective Order is punished as a Class D misdemeanor. This can lead to a maximum penalty of a $2,000 fine and up to 364 days in jail.

If the order is from a Protection From Abuse case and is violated with reckless or dangerous conduct that could cause death or bodily harm (or leads to an assault against the plaintiff), it is prosecuted as a Class C crime according to the §4011 Violation (Domestic Relations) of the Maine Legislature.

This usually leads to a more serious penalty, including a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in jail – not to mention the potential designation as a felon.

Because a violation of a protective order from a PFA case is considered a domestic-violence-related crime, the individual may be charged more severely in future criminal cases that involve domestic violence.

What is the difference between an abuse order and harassment in Maine?

Abuse orders generally involve family or sexual partners, e.g., a spouse or ex-spouse, a domestic partner or a current or former dating partner.

Harassment cases do not normally involve family members. Protective orders for harassment require either:

  • Three or more acts of intimidation, confrontation, actual or threatened physical force, made with the intention of causing fear, intimidation, or damage to personal property, or
  • A single criminal act, such as sexual assault, terrorizing, kidnapping, aggravated assault, arson, or violation of privacy; or violating or interfering with the plaintiff’s constitutional or civil rights.

How will your criminal defense lawyer help?

Violations of both types of protective orders are serious enough – but with the potential of a future criminal conviction for an abuse order violation, it can be particularly stressful for the accused.

The guidance and support of a criminal defense lawyer can be invaluable in these situations. It is unwise to attempt to defend yourself against such serious charges.

The objective of your lawyer will be to find weaknesses in the evidence to secure a case dismissal or, if that is not possible, mitigate the consequences you face in the future.

Although jail time is a real possibility, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will work to greatly reduce the chance of this. Your lawyer will focus on:

  • Examining police actions during the investigation: were your constitutional rights violated?
  • Finding weaknesses in the prosecution’s evidence: are there factual inaccuracies or other weaknesses in the case against you?
  • Presenting a persuasive argument in your defense: could cross-examining witnesses or presenting other evidence at trial clear your name or, at least, reduce the sentence you face through negotiations with the prosecutor?

What are the best outcomes if you violate a protective order in Maine?

If you’re charged with violating a protective order in Maine, pleading guilty and simply accepting the consequences should not be an option without first talking with a criminal defense lawyer.

Your lawyer, after initial discussions and close examination of the evidence, will likely present a viable defense and seek one of these three possible outcomes:

  1. Case dismissal: if the state drops the case against you, it is the best possible outcome for you. The charge will still appear on your criminal record but as “dismissed”, which should not affect your future employment.
  2. Filing agreement: this is the second most favorable outcome. State prosecutors set aside the criminal case for some time. If you display good behavior during that time, the charges may be dropped.
  3. Deferred disposition: this is where you enter a guilty plea to a criminal charge, but you are not sentenced right away (it is “deferred”). With good behavior and by following certain conditions (like engaging in counseling), the case may be dismissed, or you may be sentenced to a lesser crime. If you don’t abide by the conditions, the consequences could quickly become very serious for you.

Court procedure for violation of protective orders in Maine

If you are charged with violating a protective order in Maine, you will go through a series of steps in court, accompanied by your lawyer.

These vary slightly according to the seriousness of the alleged offense, but most violations of protective orders are treated as Class D misdemeanors, so the following procedure is based on that:

1.     Arraignment

This is the first court date. Your charges will be officially read to you, and you will have the opportunity to enter a plea.

At this stage, your criminal defense lawyer may start to negotiate with the District Attorney, but a case is rarely resolved without further negotiations.

2.     Dispositional conference

The dispositional conference is a more formal way to resolve the case. The District Attorney and your defense lawyer will meet and try to negotiate a mutually acceptable outcome.

There is no obligation for either party to accept any offers.

3.     Motion hearing

If there is no resolution, the case may move to a “motion hearing”, which addresses any issues of evidence before trial. This hearing is only necessary if your attorney files a pretrial motion.

For instance, if evidence was gathered by a violation of your constitutional rights, your lawyer may file a motion to suppress that evidence.

4.     Docket call

This is the final opportunity to resolve a criminal case without going to a trial. It is a last attempt to save the time, uncertainty, and expense of a court trial.

However, if you decide not to accept any plea offers, you have the constitutional right to a trial and that’s where we will end up.

5.     Trial

At the trial, the District Attorney will attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you violated your protection order.

Evidence will be produced and witnesses will be called.  Those witnesses may be cross-examined by your criminal defense lawyer and the DA.

At the end of the trial, the judge or a jury will deliver the verdict of guilty or not guilty, and you will be sentenced.

Whether you need help arranging a protection from abuse order as the plaintiff or challenging one as the defendant, call Maine Criminal Defense Group at (207) 571-8146 or contact us online immediately.

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