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Domestic violence cases can be some of the most challenging to deal with for everyone involved. Families with children can be thrown into turmoil with emotions running high.
Many people are unaware that for the prosecution to secure a conviction for domestic violence assault in Maine (Title 17-A, §207-A), no physical injury to the alleged victim is necessary.
What happens if a verbal fight gets out of hand and physical contact is made by pushing or shoving? Is a simple push enough for charges to be filed?
Let’s say that a neighbor or family member calls the police. If a complaint is made, Maine law enforcement has a duty to investigate. Usually, two officers will appear at the door and speak to the parties involved, individually.
The investigation into whether domestic violence has occurred will include observations at the scene and a search for any signs of a struggle, such as bruises or broken items in the home. Witnesses, if present, will also be interviewed.
Even if there are no obvious signs of violence but the alleged victim relates to the police how he/she was pushed or shoved, this can still result in a domestic violence charge.
Under Maine’s laws on domestic violence, intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury or offensive physical contact to another family or household member is considered domestic violence assault.
So, even if a minimal amount of force is used and no injury results (as is generally the case with pushing), it can still lead to a criminal charge.
If you’re interviewed by the police, it’s important not to say too much initially. It’s best to speak to a criminal defense lawyer with experience in such cases as soon as possible.
Admitting that you pushed the alleged victim may lead to a criminal charge even if the victim later retracts his/her statement.
A domestic assault charge is a very serious matter in Maine. It can lead to jail time and restrictions placed on your freedoms and employment prospects as well as the inevitable family and relationship issues. A conviction can also mean a permanent criminal record as well as a federal lifetime ban on ever owning, using, or possessing a firearm or ammunition.
However, you are not guilty until proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The onus is on the State to prove that the domestic violence assault occurred.
Generally, it’s best to go through the facts of the case with a criminal defense lawyer, who can guide you through the legal system in Maine and start building the best possible defense.
You may be able to legitimately claim that you acted in self-defense or that the physical contact was accidental, for instance. Your domestic violence lawyer will start gathering evidence to question the prosecution’s version of events.
It’s important to start this process as soon as possible after you’ve been arrested and charged. Before then, say as little as possible to the police. This can be a real challenge in domestic violence cases, where the accused often wants to immediately convince the police of his/her innocence.
Whatever you say can and will be used against you. You may even say things that later lead to additional charges. It’s best, therefore, to wait until your lawyer arrives and advises you.
In an attempt to reduce the incidences of domestic violence and abuse in Maine, the courts regularly issue protection from abuse orders (PFAs) when requested.
This is a category of court order that includes emergency protection orders and standard protection orders (often simply called “restraining orders”).
In many volatile domestic situations where a complaint is made to the police, the “victim” of the crime will apply for a temporary protection from abuse order. If issued (and they almost always are) the accused will be prevented from having any contact with the named individual or individuals for a certain period.
In many situations, the protection order saves a bad situation from getting worse. In others, it unfairly prevents parents from seeing their children and imposes harsh restrictions that can damage family relationships.
If you’re in this situation and you want to challenge the protection from abuse order, speak to a domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible.
If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, don’t panic. It is likely to be a stressful time and you may need some help to navigate the legal processes.
You not only have to deal with the emotional fallout from your relationship and family stresses but you may have a protection order issued against you and the resulting criminal charge may have some grave potential consequences for your future.
If you’re a first-time offender and this is your first brush with the criminal justice system in Maine, you may be able to avoid the harshest consequences if you follow some simple advice.
Domestic violence cases in Maine tend to move slowly. Be patient and follow these steps to achieve the best possible outcome for your future…
There’s too much riding on the outcome of a criminal domestic violence investigation against you to handle it yourself. Your first move — before you say too much to law enforcement — should be to retain (hire) a seasoned domestic violence lawyer to represent you.
Even though it can be challenging to follow the terms of a temporary protection from abuse order, it’s important that you do. Any violation will only damage your case and make matters worse — with an additional criminal charge — so follow the advice of your attorney to the letter.
Not breaking any other law is just as important as not violating the terms of your protection order. An additional criminal charge can damage your standing and that’s not what you need if you’re already facing a domestic violence charge. Any further transgression(s) with be used against you by the prosecution.
Domestic violence cases can be extremely tough to deal with emotionally. They often proceed slowly and the potential for emotional issues is high. Seek the advice of a professional therapist if possible — not only does it help you get through the case but it shows the court that you are serious about taking steps to improve yourself and may improve the outcome of your case.
If you hire a lawyer, you will be prepared well in advance for court appearances. The details are important, such as what to say (or not say) in court, and what to wear in the courtroom as well as arriving on time to make a good impression.
If you are facing criminal charges in Maine, the attorneys at The Maine Criminal Defense Group are here to help. Call our office to speak with
one of our team members, who will discuss your case with you and set up a consultation with one of our attorneys
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