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Statutory Rape Laws in Maine

Statutory Rape Of a Minor Defense Lawyers in Maine

In Maine, there are strict laws concerning statutory rape and other sex crimes involving children.

Needless to say, any charge of rape is extremely serious and you will require legal advice at the earliest opportunity.

Statutory rape involves sexual activity with a child aged 15 or under, a conviction for which could result in especially harsh consequences.

Unfortunately, there are many cases each year in Maine where individuals are wrongly accused of this offense.

If you know someone who has been accused of statutory rape or any sex crime involving a child, it helps to know what the laws say, the potential punishments for a conviction and the possible defenses that may be able to be employed.

What are Statutory rape and other sex crimes involving juveniles in Maine?

The age of consent in Maine is 16. Therefore, any sexual activity with a person under this age is liable to result in a charge of statutory rape as the alleged victim is considered too young to be able to consent.

Even if the defendant argues that the child consented to the sexual activity or initiated it, it is not usually a valid defense.

The crime of statutory rape covers several forms of sexual misconduct with a child in Maine, each with its associated level of punishment: these are gross sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, unlawful sexual conduct or unlawful touching.

In addition to the standard laws, others apply to teachers and other employees in positions of authority over children, as you will see below.

Following are the five main charges related to sexual misconduct with a child in Maine, in descending order of severity.

Gross sexual assault (Class A crimes)

According to Maine law, a charge of gross sexual assault, which may be filed against a person who engages in a sex act (oral/anal sex or direct genital contact) when:

  • The victim is under the age of 14
  • The defendant is a teacher or school employee and the victim is a student over whom the teacher has authority, or
  • The defendant is a teacher or employee of a daycare center, youth facility, or drug treatment center and the victim is a resident under the age of 18 over whom the teacher has authority.

Sexual abuse of a minor

Maine’s law states that the crime of sexual abuse of a minor is committed when a person engages in a sex act with:

  • A child age 14 or 15 when the defendant is at least five years older, or
  • A student age 16 or 17 when the defendant is a teacher or school employee who is at least 21 years old and the student is enrolled in the same school or district.

If the defendant is ten years older than the child or more, the sentence will be harsher.

Unlawful sexual contact

The crime of unlawful sexual contact happens when the act consists of sexual touching (genital or anal) and the following applies:

  • The victim is under the age of 14 and the defendant is at least three years older
  • The victim is aged 14 or 15 and the defendant is at least ten years older, or
  • The defendant is a teacher and the victim is a student enrolled in the same school or district.

This charge becomes more serious if the act includes penetration or the victim is aged 12 years or younger.  These crimes can range from being charged as “D” misdemeanors to class “A” felonies, based on the type of contact and the age of the victim

Unlawful sexual touching

A charge of unlawful sexual touching may be filed if an individual is accused of touching another person’s breasts, buttocks, or groin for a sexual purpose under any of the circumstances outlined above for unlawful sexual conduct.  These are generally misdemeanor crimes.

Child enticement

Child enticement is a separate charge that can be filed against a person in Maine even if there is no sexual contact.

This occurs when a person lures or attempts to lure a child under the age of 14 for the purposes of sexual gratification.


How do you defend against a statutory rape charge involving a minor in Maine?

Everyone is entitled to a defense, and nobody is guilty until proven innocent.

These fundamentals of U.S. criminal law apply in all sex crime charges too.  People make mistakes, others are wrongly accused, and even if a person is found guilty, there may be mitigating circumstances.

Some defenses applicable in statutory rape and other sex charges are the same as those available for any criminal offense. Others are rather unique to this type of charge.

Mistake of fact

A case of mistaken identity (“it wasn’t me”) or a false allegation (“it didn’t happen”) may be legitimate defenses in some cases – for example, where there are unreliable witnesses, medical evidence is inconclusive or video surveillance produces poorly-defined images.

The “Romeo and Juliet” exemption

Within Maine’s laws, an exemption exists to the “sexual abuse of a minor” law (described above) for consensual sexual contact between a 14 or 15 years old minor and a person no more than five years older.

This protects young couples from criminal charges for consensual sexual activity. However, the exemption could not be used to defend a 20-year-old who has “consensual” sex with a 14-year-old.

Marital exemption

Maine’s law allows for marital rape exemption.  This means that someone accused of statutory rape cannot be found guilty if they are married to the victim.

However, if the couple is living apart at the time of the alleged incident, they are not considered “married” for the purposes of this offense.

Mistake of age

Maine differs from some other states in how the law interprets the perceived age of the alleged victim.

Here, a defendant can claim a reasonable belief that a child aged 14 or 15 was aged 16 years or older as a legitimate defense. In most other states, it is not a valid argument to say that the victim concealed or misstated his or her age.


What are mandated abuse reporters in Maine?

Under Title 22, §3477, In the State of Maine, certain professionals have an obligation to report child abuse to the authorities. This includes statutory rape.

The list is extensive and basically includes anyone that a child would interact with on a regular basis. Some of these professionals include:

  • Doctors or specialists
  • Dentist or dental staff
  • Teachers, guidance counselors and school officials
  • Social workers or child service officers
  • Camp counselors
  • Homemakers
  • Child care professionals
  • Law enforcement or firefighter

What are the penalties for statutory rape involving minors in Maine?

Any statutory rape or sex offense conviction carries harsh, life-changing penalties, such as the following:

  • Gross sexual assault against a child under 14: This is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.
  • Sexual abuse of a minor: If the minor is aged 14 or 15, this is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. Where the defendant is at least 10 years older than the victim, potential penalties increase to up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000. If the defendant is a teacher or school employee, it can result in up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Unlawful sexual conduct: The punishment varies according to the victim’s age and whether penetration occurred.
  • Unlawful sexual touching: Punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

In addition to the above penalties, you may be required to register as a sex offender in Maine. This can have lasting consequences for your reputation and the criminal record you will have may affect employment, travel, immigration status, and more.

With such serious consequences, anyone charged with a statutory rape offense should seek urgent legal advice before even thinking about pleading guilty.

Contact a Maine Statutory Rape Lawyer Today

The laws are complex and change regularly, and an experienced attorney can provide the advice you need and protect your rights in difficult times. Call us directly at (207) 571-8146 or contact us directly online.

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