An assault can occur in Maine in two situations: when a person, without legal justification, causes someone else to suffer a “bodily injury;” or simply touches someone else in an offensive manner. In other words, a person can be charged with assault even if no physical injury occurs.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 207)
Depending on the circumstances of a case, assault can be either a Class D crime or a higher-level Class C crime. In addition, Maine identifies the crime of aggravated assault, which is a Class B crime, and elevated aggravated assault, which is a Class A crime. This article discusses Classes C and D.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A §§ 208; 208-B)
To learn about aggravated assault in Maine, see Aggravated Assault in Maine.
To learn about elevated aggravated assault in Maine, see Elevated Aggravated Assault in Maine.
Class D Assault
Class D assault is the lowest level assault crime, which can be committed in two ways. First, a person can commit Class D assault by intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing a victim to suffer a “bodily injury.” Second, even if a victim suffers no bodily injury, Class D assault can be charged if a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly makes offensive physical contact with a victim.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 207(1)(A))
Acting intentionally means that the actor wants to cause injury or subject a victim to offensive physical contact.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 35(1))
A person acts knowingly when he is aware that his actions will almost certainly cause an injury or result in offensive physical contact.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 35(2)).
A person acts recklessly by choosing to ignore the fact that there is a great risk his acts will result in either injury or offensive physical contact. For instance, shoving someone down a flight of stairs would be a reckless act.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 35(3))
Bodily injury or offensive physical contact
Maine defines a bodily injury as “physical pain, physical illness or any impairment of physical condition.” This means that assault can be charged even if a victim suffers only pain, and it’s possible to touch someone else in an offensive manner without causing injury or even pain. For example, an unwanted slap across the back of another person’s head in the midst of an argument may not cause any pain or injury but would still be viewed as offensive.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 2(5))
Class C Assault
The higher-level Class C assault occurs in only one situation: when someone who is at least 18 years old intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to a child younger than 6.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 207(1)(B))
The penalties for assault range from probation to incarceration (or a combination of both), plus a fine. Terms of incarceration in Maine are for a “definite term,” which means that the judge slects a specific number of days within the range set by law. For example, if someone can be sentenced to jail for less than one year, a judge could impose a definite term of 364 days, or one day, or any other number of days within that range.
Class D assault
A class D conviction carries a definite term of incarceration of less than one year in the county jail. Alternatively, a defendant convicted of a Class D crime could be placed on probation for no more than one year. The fine for a Class D conviction is at least $300 and can be up to $2,000. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 1202, 1252, 1301.)
Class C assault
Conviction for a Class C crime can result in a definite term of incarceration of no more than five years. If a judge imposes a sentence of nine months or less, the sentence will be served in a county jail. If the sentence is greater than nine months, it will be served in state prison. If a defendant convicted of a Class C crime is placed on probation instead of incarcerated, the probation term cannot exceed two years. The fine for a Class C conviction is at least $300 and up to $5,000.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 1252,1202, 1301)
Consult With a Lawyer
An assault charge has serious consequences. If you are facing such a charge, you will benefit from consulting with an attorney having knowledge of the assault laws and penalties applicable in your case. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will investigate your case, evaluate the strength of the case against you, and possibly be able to convince a prosecutor or a jury that your actions did not result in an injury or constitute offensive physical contact. That could result in a lesser charge (perhaps disorderly conduct), a lesser punishment, or even dismissal of your case.