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Maine Criminal Law: An Overview

As the second safest state in public safety in the country according to WalletHub, you'd probably think that crime isn't something to concern yourself over in Maine. Unfortunately, there is no safe haven from crime and you may one day need to arm yourself with knowledge of Maine's criminal laws for a lawsuit.

Use LawInfo's criminal law articles to help educate yourself about Maine's laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges and many other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with a Maine criminal law attorney in Portland, Lewiston, Bangor or elsewhere in the state.

Maine Criminal Record Expungement

Where some states allow people to have certain nonviolent criminal offenses expunged (or sealed) from their criminal record, Maine's laws impose stringent restrictions that only allow for juvenile crimes to be expunged at a certain time. The purpose of expungement in Maine is to help a person who had committed a minor juvenile offense work toward sealing that offense so that it doesn't affect future work and life opportunities.

Main's record expungement requirements include:

  • Only Class E convictions (the least serious criminal offenses) may be expunged.
  • The conviction that's being considered for expungement is the only criminal conviction on your record in Maine.
  • The offense was committed when you were between the ages of 18 and 21 years.
  • Four or more years have passed since you've satisfied the conviction's sentence.
  • You have no other convictions outside of the state or jurisdiction.

Crime Classifications in Maine

Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. Unlike most states, Maine doesn't classify criminal offenses as either misdemeanors or felonies. Rather, an offense will either fall under one of five classes or (in the case of murder) remain unclassified.

Except for murder offenses, all other criminal offenses are classified as Class A, B, C, D or E offenses. Class A offenses are the most serious ones after murder offenses and Class E offenses are the least serious.

Every class carries a range of sentences but a specific offense's statute may override the standard sentence with a unique one. (See Maine Criminal Code § 1252 and 1301.) The sentences for each class include:

  • Unclassified (murder) crimes—25 years to life imprisonment.
  • Class A crimes—Up to 30 years of imprisonment and up to a $50,000 fine.
  • Class B crimes—Up to 10 years of imprisonment and up to a $20,000 fine.
  • Class C crimes—Up to five years of imprisonment and up to a $5,000 fine.
  • Class D crimes—Up to one year of imprisonment and up to a $2,000 fine.
  • Class E crimes—Up to six months of imprisonment and up to a $1,000 fine.

Murder vs. Manslaughter in Maine

Homicide may be one of the worst crimes to commit in Maine, but not all homicide cases are treated equally. State law recognizes that a person who accidentally killed another doesn't deserve the same penalties as a person who intentionally killed. That is why Maine separates manslaughter from murder.

Murder is the most serious homicide offense as it implies that the killer had intended to kill another person. The only instances in which a homicide is determined to be manslaughter are if the killer either acted recklessly or with criminal negligence OR knowingly or intentionally killed while under the influence of extreme anger or fear that was instigated by the victim or a third party. If there was no adequate provocation that would reasonably instigate the killer's extreme anger or fear, the homicide is considered murder.

Manslaughter is a Class A criminal offense. However, if the offense involved the death of an employee as the result of a manager or executive's violation of occupational health and safety codes, it is a Class C manslaughter offense.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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