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Sexual Assault in Maine

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Sexual Assault Defense Lawyers in Maine

Maine Sexual Assault Lawyers

Sexual assault can be defined as any type of “assault of a sexual nature on another person, or any sexual act committed without consent”.

This could include a wide variety of inappropriate contact, as it covers some of the most severe types of offenses, in addition to the most minor.

It is also the most commonly prosecuted type of sex crime, since many types of sex crime fall under this broad category of criminal offense. Unlawful acts that may be included under the charge of sexual assault include:

These acts, all of which include inappropriate sexual conduct of some form, are punishable under the law.

Even instances of forcefully kissing another or inappropriately groping someone without their consent can be defined as a sexual assault-and can, therefore, be punished through the means of the legal system.

The use of manipulation, coercion, or verbal and/or physical threats in order to engage in sexual acts is also considered sexual assault.

Read MoreStatute of limitations for Sexual Assault in Maine

Gross Sexual Assault Lawyers in Maine

Gross sexual assault is a term that is used to define a range of unlawful sexual acts.

It can include anything from engaging in sexual acts with a person that is mentally disabled-who is therefore unable to consent or object, to engaging in sexual acts with a person that has not yet reached the age of consent-which is 16 in the state of Maine.

Depending on the type of assault that was committed, one might be charged with a serious classification of crime.

In some instances, a conviction of gross sexual assault is a class A felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine-not to mention the consequences of being labeled a “sex offender” for the duration of an individual’s life.

If you have been accused, contact our gross sexual assault attorney in Maine today. Let us defend you against accusations.

What Offenses are Categorized as Sexual Assault Crimes in Maine?

Maine law categorizes a wide range of offenses as sexual assault crimes. These crimes cover sharply disparate behaviors, including the most serious offenses – rape or forced penetration, child molestation, etc. – to the least serious offenses (child enticement, non-violent harassment or stalking, etc.). Also, within each offense itself there is variation in the level of severity and consequently the possible punishments which can follow.

Can the Age Difference Affect the Severity of a Sexual Crime?

Yes, certain crimes are actually defined by the age difference between the perpetrator and the victim, or certain crimes are exacerbated by a large enough age difference. For example, the crime of “unlawful sexual contact” is defined as sexual touching involving a victim under the age of 14 when the perpetrator is minimally 3 years older, but it’s also defined as sexual touching involving a victim between 14 to 15 years of age and a perpetrator who is minimally 10 years older. The crime of sexual abuse of a minor is exacerbated whenever the perpetrator is 10 years older than the victim (or more). We see this same pattern with other sexual assault crimes, and we see it in other jurisdictions as well. In Gross Sexual Assault cases, the age of the victim can be a significant aggravating factor that can set the floor of a sentence at 20 years in prison!!!

Can a Crime Be Committed for an Attempted Sexual Assault?

Yes, Maine has a crime which specifically refers to instances in which a perpetrator attempts to commit a sexual assault against a victim but is unsuccessful. This crime is called “child enticement” in Maine, and it occurs when a perpetrator makes a clear attempt to lure a child (under the age of 14) for the purposes of sexual misconduct. Although the perpetrator isn’t able to engage in the sexual misconduct, the attempt itself is considered a criminal act and can be prosecuted as such in Maine.

What are the Common Defenses to Sexual Assault Allegations?

Simply because an allegation of sexual assault takes place doesn’t mean that a conviction will result in all cases. There can be many viable defenses to an allegation of sexual assault. When it comes to potential defenses, the viability of any given defense obviously depends on the specific circumstances. With that said, we can identify several defenses which tend to be raised more often than others. Mistake of fact is among the most common defenses; this is just a simple defense which says “the identity is mistaken” – the crime happened, but the perpetrator has been incorrectly identified – or “the crime never happened at all.” A mistake of fact defense depends on things such as the reliability of witnesses, the value or significance of the available evidence, and so forth.

The “Romeo & Juliet” defense is another commonly used defense in Maine. Basically, this is a defense to the crime of sexual abuse of a minor, and holds that a person cannot be convicted of such a crime if he or she isn’t more than 5 years older than the victim. The law is written in this way in order to protect young offenders engaging in consensual sexual activity with their dating partner.

Another common defense is the “mistake of age” defense. In Maine, a defendant has the ability to claim that he or she had a reasonable belief regarding the age of an alleged victim. Hence, if a defendant had a reasonable basis on which to believe that another person was at the age of consent, then that defendant may be able to overcome a charge of sexual assault where the victim’s age is one of the elements of the crime. Maine is unlike most jurisdictions throughout the country in this way, as most jurisdictions today don’t allow for this type of defense.

How is Statutory Rape Defined in Maine?

In the State of Maine, the “age of consent” – that is, the age at which a person is capable of giving consent for sexual activity – is 16, which means that, as a general matter, any sexual activity with a person below this age is considered “statutory rape” by default. However, Maine has a complex system of laws which address various factual scenarios, and so statutory rape is actually several distinct crimes which have their own definition. So, there is gross sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, unlawful sexual contact, unlawful sexual touching and child enticement. There are also more severe variations of these same crimes – so, for instance aggravated sexual assault when the crime is committed in a certain way.

Can a Person Be Convicted of Sexual Assault if Both Parties Were Intoxicated?

Yes, generally, the fact that both the alleged perpetrator and victim were intoxicated isn’t a defense to sexual assault. The only way in which this might be a successful defense is if the defendant can prove that he or she was intoxicated such that the underlying offense would’ve been impossible. In other words, if the alleged perpetrator can show that the level of intoxication undermines the validity of the crime itself, then it might be a successful defense. But, in most cases this isn’t a viable defense for the alleged perpetrator. In point of fact, if the alleged victim were known to be under the influence of alcohol or another substance, that alone could damage a defendant’s case because the intoxication diminishes the victim’s ability to give proper consent.

How Does the Registration Process Work for Sex Offenders?

If someone is convicted of a sex offense in Maine, that person may be required to register as a sex offender depending on the specific nature of the crime. If registration is a requirement for a given individual, the burden is on that individual to take the initiative and start the registration process. The court or other jail personnel will not take the initiative and provide forms, instructions or other information. However, if someone makes a specific query, the court will let an offender know if he or she does in fact have to register as an offender.

The registration process simply involves giving certain information to the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) and the local police department in which the offender resides (or previously resided). This registration must be periodically renewed, but an offender also must inform the SBI about any pertinent updates, such as a relocation, change of employment, and so forth.

What Basic Data is Needed to Become a Registered Sex Offender?

The amount of data needed to register as a sex offender is fairly substantial in the State of Maine. In addition to essential personal information – full name and aliases, date of birth, etc. – the offender also needs to submit fingerprint samples, details regarding mental health status, details regarding the underlying conviction, a recent photograph, and addresses where the offender intends to live and work in the future. All this information is kept recorded by the SBI.

How Does the Sex Offender Registration Verification Process Work?

The State of Maine has a “verification process” which it uses to ensure that the information gathered from offenders is accurate. Basically, all offenders go through the verification process, and the verification procedure itself is the same for every offender; but, the frequency of the process varies depending on which “tier” the offender falls into. So, Tier I offenders must finish the process once per year for a total length of 10 years; Tier II offenders must complete the process once every 6 months for a total length of 25 years, and Tier III offenders (the most severe category for offenders) need to complete the process once every 3 months for the remainder of his or her life.

How Severe are the Penalties for Failing to Register?

The penalties for failing to register, and for failing to properly complete the verification process, can be quite severe, as the State of Maine considers maintaining an accurate sex offender registry to be a top priority. An accurate sex offender registry has consequences which can deeply affect communities and residents throughout the entire state, and so the matter is taken seriously. Expectedly, the penalties for violations are different for first offenses and repeat offenses. A first offense is treated as a Class D misdemeanor and carries a possible sentence of up to 364 days in jail and a fine of $2,000 (maximum). A second offense is treated as a Class C felony and is punishable with a jail sentence of up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Finally, a third offense is classified as a Class B felony and is punishable with a sentence of 10 years and a monetary penalty of up to $20,000.

Sexual Assault Frequently Asked Questions

Does it make a difference if we were both intoxicated at the time?

Intoxication is generally no defense against a Maine sexual assault charge unless you prove you were so intoxicated that you could not have committed the alleged act. If your partner was intoxicated, that could work against you by indicating that he/she could not have consented to sexual acts, especially if you provided the intoxicants.

Can I be convicted of sexual assault for going to a prostitute?

Yes. Under certain circumstances where the conduct meets the definition. Such as if you forced yourself on the prostitute by insisting on engaging in acts that he or she objected to would be an example. Another example would be if the prostitute was under 18, even though the age of consent in Maine is only 16. In fact, Maine authorities are becoming more aggressive than ever before in prosecuting both “johns” and pimps. Paying a prostitute for sex, without more, does not constitute a sexual assault. However, soliciting a prostitute, while not a sexual assault, is a crime where Maine authorities are seeking jail time.

Can the case against me be dropped if my accuser refuses to press charges?

Not necessarily. It is the prosecutor, not the accuser, whose job it is to press charges, and the accuser cannot compel the prosecutor to drop charges. Nevertheless, charges might still be dropped if the accuser refuses to cooperate with the prosecution and the prosecution, therefore, lacks a good case against you.

Can I be prosecuted for raping my spouse?

Yes, you can – and the penalties can be quite severe under certain circumstances. As a practical matter, it can be more difficult for your spouse to establish lack of consent than it would be in an ordinary rape case, especially if you lived with your spouse at the time of the incident.

What is a “rape shield statute”?

Every U.S. state, including Maine, has a rape shield statute that restricts the right of a criminal defendant to introduce evidence of the complainant’s past sexual conduct. Although the law is laudable in intent, it can be used to unfairly disadvantage the defendant without the intervention of a skilled and aggressive criminal defense attorney.

Can I be sued for the offense even if I am acquitted in criminal court?

Yes. The reason for this is that the standard of proof in criminal court, “beyond a reasonable doubt”, is much higher than the standard of proof that applies to a civil lawsuit. A high profile example of this discrepancy (in California) was the inconsistent verdicts in the O.J. Simpson murder and wrongful death cases.

Can my case be dismissed if the police failed to “read me my rights”?

Not necessarily. What is supposed to happen is that evidence against you will be thrown out if it arose from something you said to the police before you were advised of your rights (a confession, for example). Whether your case is dismissed depends on whether the prosecutor still has a good case against you even after this evidence is thrown out.

What is the exclusionary rule?

The exclusionary rule is a principle, based on the U.S. Constitution, that evidence against a defendant must be thrown out (suppressed) if it was obtained in violation of the defendant’s (your) constitutional rights. As an example, the exclusionary rule might come into play if one item of evidence against you is a film of an illegal sexual act that was seized from your computer’s hard drive without a warrant or a valid exception to the warrant rule.

Contact a Maine Sexual Assault Lawyer Today

The criminal justice system in Maine is, of course, adversarial. It is brutally competitive, with the prosecution and the defense basically going to war against one another.

Further complicating this scenario is the arcane nature of Maine‘s rules of evidence and criminal procedures, the nuances of which can seem mystifying to those untrained in criminal defense law.

What’s more, missing a deadline or responding inadequately to a motion or request could result in wildly disproportionate negative consequences.

If you have been charged with any form of sexual assault in Maine, now is not the time to represent yourself – or to secure the services of an inexperienced defense attorney. Call our office today at (207) 571-8146 or fill in my online contact form to schedule a case consultation.

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