Maine has three assault crimes. Ordinary assault, which is the lowest level assault crime, occurs when a victim suffers a “bodily injury.” Elevated aggravated assault – the subject of this article – is the most serious assault crime. It is a Class A crime and occurs when a victim suffers not just bodily injury but a “serious bodily injury” that is caused by either a dangerous weapon or someone acting with “terroristic intent.”
Ordinary assault can be either a Class C or Class D crime; to learn more, see Assault in Maine.
Maine also has a crime called aggravated assault, a Class B crime. To learn about aggravated assault, see Aggravated Assault in Maine.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A §§ 207; 208).
What is Elevated Aggravated Assault?
Elevated aggravated assault can be committed in three ways. First, a person can commit elevated aggravated assault by intentionally or knowingly causing a victim to suffer a “serious bodily injury” by using a dangerous weapon. Second, elevated aggravated assault occurs if a person acts in a way that demonstrates “extreme indifference” to human life and while doing so causes serious bodily injury with a dangerous weapon. Third, elevated aggravated assault can be charged if a person acting with “terroristic intent” causes serious bodily injury.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 208-B).
Acting intentionally means that the actor wants to cause serious injury.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 35(1).)
A person acts knowingly when he is aware that his actions will almost certainly cause a serious injury.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 35(2).)
Several factors come into play when determining whether a person caused injury while acting under circumstances indicating extreme indifference to human life. Those factors include the number and type of injuries a victim sustained, how the attacker caused the injuries, and how badly injured the victim appears. Extreme indifference is exemplified by an extremely severe beating or attack on a particularly helpless victim.
A person acts with terroristic intent when a person intends to either seriously injure or kill multiple victims, or cause major damage to multiple structures or critical infrastructure for the purpose of affecting government action or intimidating or coercing citizens.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 2(25).)
Serious bodily injury
Maine law defines a bodily injury as “physical pain, physical illness or any impairment of physical condition.” (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 2(5)). A serious bodily injury goes beyond the basic definition. It is an injury that results in either substantial risk of dying, serious, permanent disfigurement, the loss or major impairment of a body part or organ, or prolonged convalescence.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 2(23))
The definition of a weapon used to cause an injury is quite broad. It includes items that would be viewed traditionally as weapons, like guns. But the definition also includes any other object that, while not usually a weapon, can nonetheless be used in a way that can cause death or serious injury. For example, a beer bottle can be a dangerous weapon if it’s used to hit a victim’s head.
Punishment for elevated aggravated assault can range from probation to incarceration (or a combination of both), plus a fine. Terms of incarceration in Maine are for what are known as a “definite term,” which means that a judge can choose a precise sentence from within a given range. As a Class A crime, elevated aggravated assault carries a term of incarceration of up to thirty years. A definite term of incarceration could be thirty years, or one day, or any other number of days within that range. If the sentence imposed is 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.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 1252)
If a defendant convicted of a Class A elevated aggravated assault is placed on probation instead of incarcerated, the probation term cannot exceed four years. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 1202.)
Aside from incarceration or probation, a person convicted of elevated aggravated assault can be fined up to $50,000.
(Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Tit. 17-A § 1301)
Consult With a Lawyer
As a Class A crime, a charge of elevated aggravated assault is an extremely serious matter. If you are charged with the crime, it is quite advisable to consult with an attorney having knowledge of the assault laws and penalties applicable in your case. A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will have a sense of how to convince either a prosecutor or a jury that a defendant did not cause an injury serious enough to warrant a charge of elevated aggravated assault. If the attorney succeeds, a defendant could benefit with a lesser charge, a lesser punishment, an acquittal, or even dismissal of a case.