Criminal Law in Maine
If you or a loved one is being questioned in connection with a crime or has been arrested, it’s likely one of the scariest times of your life – with good reason. The future, as you know it, may be about to be crushed.
In this article, we’ll provide information you must know. This includes:
- Maine criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Maine; and
- How to work with your Maine criminal defense attorney.
Maine Criminal Laws
Certain actions or inactions are classified as crimes in an attempt to prevent harm. As you likely know, ignorance of the law is not a defense.
- Maine criminal laws are found in the Maine Criminal Code (Title 17A of the Maine Revised Statutes.)
- Criminal statutes (i.e. state written laws) define unlawful conduct that is punishable.
- Most laws are a matter of common sense.
Bribery, unlawful gathering, DUI, bribery, unlawful prizefighting, embezzlement, theft, cyber stalking, telephone harassment, sex abuse of minors, unlawful sexual touching, assault, kidnapping, disorderly conduct, child abuse, gambling, burglary, extortion, drug possession, credit card fraud, and identity theft are all examples of behaviors that have been classified as criminal in Maine.
Your criminal defense attorney will explain the crime you or your loved one has been charged with.
Statute of Limitations
If the statute of limitations (i.e. time limit) has passed in a case, charges cannot be brought.
For example, in Maine, the statute of limitations for:
- Theft is 3 or 6 years, depending upon the facts of the case (17-A Me. Rev. Stat. В§ 8(2)(A) or (B)).
- Manslaughter is 6 years. (17-A Me. Rev. Stat. В§ 8(2)(A)).
- Arson is 6 years. (17-A Me. Rev. Stat. В§ 8(2)(A)).
One of the first things your defense attorney will consider is the statute of limitations in your particular case.
If criminal laws are broken, probation, jail time, fines, restitution, education, and counseling may be ordered. Maine does not have the death penalty.
For example, in Maine, sentencing guidelines call for:
A minimum of 25 years in jail for the most serious crimes. The maximum penalty would be life, without possibility of parole.
Examples of the most serious felonies include manslaughter, murder, rape, arson, burglary, kidnapping, and gross sexual assault.
- The least serious crimes would be traffic offenses (not punishable with jail time but likely involve a fine).
Your criminal defense lawyer will give you a sentence range appropriate for the charges you’re facing.
A full analysis would include the crime itself, the circumstances of the crime, your past criminal history, the age of the victim, whether a weapon was used during the crime, the presence of violence, and any other crimes that were committed at the same time.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
This is a general run down of what you need to know about criminal defense. Your attorney will likely add details about your individual situation.
- You need to be represented by legal counsel whether you know you’re innocent or guilty. Even if you’re innocent, you’re in danger of being convicted and you need legal representation.
- Hire an attorney right away. A “wait and see” approach is much too dangerous.
- If police do not allow you to leave the police station or wherever you are, you have been arrested and you need a lawyer – even if they haven’t said the words, “you’re under arrest”.
- If you think something will make you look bad, disclose it to your attorney anyway.
- Answer all your attorney’s questions completely and honestly. Your future depends on it and all communications are kept confidential.
- Your words can be used against you by police, but not by your attorney.
How to Work with a Maine Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your criminal defense attorney is always working in your best interests; however, you must do your part and be active in your best defense. Keep in mind:
- All communications with your attorney are strictly confidential.
- Answer each and every question your lawyer asks you. It’s okay if some of the questions make you feel uncomfortable; it’s all for a good cause = you and your future.
- Explain exactly what happened. Include details that put you in a bad light.
- Return all phone calls in a timely manner.
- Provide all requested documentation and information promptly.
- Stay in contact with your attorney’s office.
- Update your current address and phone number if they change.
- Expect your attorney to be polite and cooperative with the police and prosecutors. It’s part of the job and benefits you.
It’s okay to call a criminal defense lawyer. You can find a Maine criminal defense attorney by doing a search on our site, www.attorneys.org, or by asking the bar association or friends for a referral. Most defense attorneys offer a free consultation.