Assault Laws and Penalties in Maine

Learn about the three different assault levels in Maine, their penalties, and what defenses may be available.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated 7/16/2024

A person commits an assault in Maine by unlawfully harming or making offensive physical contact with another. Assault crimes carry penalties that range from class A to D crimes. Prosecutors can file simple, aggravated, or elevated aggravated assault charges depending on the defendant's intent and conduct and the resulting harm.

What Is Considered Assault in Maine?

An assault occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to, or makes offensive physical contact with, another person. Punching, kicking, shooting, or stabbing someone are examples of assault that could result in bodily injuries. Offensive physical contact could involve shoving or grabbing someone.

Assault, Aggravated Assault, and Elevated Aggravated Assault

Maine divides assault offenses into three categories: assault, aggravated assault, and elevated aggravated assault. These assault crimes carry increasingly severe penalties based on the level or risk of harm involved in the assault. The more serious the injuries are or could be, the greater the penalty will be. For instance, it's considered assault to hit someone and cause bruising or pain. But hitting someone with a crowbar, even if it only leaves bruises, will be considered aggravated assault because the use of a dangerous weapon increases the risk of harm.

Assault Definitions

Some key terms used to distinguish assault crimes in Maine include bodily injury, serious bodily injury, and dangerous weapons.

Bodily injury means physical pain, physical illness, or any impairment of a physical condition. This can include bruises, cuts, scrapes, sprains, or minor fractures.

Serious bodily injury is a bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes serious and permanent disfigurement, causes significant damage to a body part or organ, or requires a long period of recovery. Examples could include gunshot or stab wounds, broken bones, damage to internal organs, or serious concussions.

Dangerous weapons are firearms and any other weapon or device that's capable of producing death or serious bodily injury. Examples can include knives, metal knuckles, batons, baseball bats, crowbars, and wood planks.

(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A, § 2 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Assault in Maine?

An assault occurs when a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury or makes offensive physical contact with another.

A person convicted of assault faces penalties for a Class D crime, which carries up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, an assault committed against a child younger than six by an adult defendant is punished as a Class C crime. Class C crimes carry sentences of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A, § 207 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Assault in Maine?

A defendant can face aggravated assault charges by causing injuries that:

  • create a substantial risk of death or require a long period of recovery
  • were inflicted with a dangerous weapon
  • show "extreme indifference to the value of human life," such as strangling or using force that could have caused disfigurement or impairment, or
  • cause serious, permanent disfigurement or substantially impair a body function or organ.

Most aggravated assaults are Class B crimes, but it's a Class A crime if it causes serious, permanent disfigurement or substantial impairment. Class B crimes carry up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, and Class A crimes are punishable by up to 30 years' imprisonment and a $50,000 fine.

A broken eye socket, punctured lung, second-degree burns, and kidney damage caused by repeated kicks are examples of bodily injuries that supported aggravated assault charges.

(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A, § 208 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Elevated Aggravated Assault in Maine?

An "elevated" aggravated assault occurs when the person:

  • intentionally or with "depraved indifference" causes serious bodily injury with a dangerous weapon
  • intentionally causes serious bodily injuries to a pregnant woman (including injuries that result in termination of pregnancy), or
  • causes serious bodily injury, without a weapon, but with "terroristic intent."

People act with depraved indifference when they know (or should know) that death or serious bodily injury could occur from their actions but they do them anyway. They act with terroristic intent when they intend to seriously injure more than one person.

Repeatedly hitting someone with a crowbar or stabbing another intending to cause broken bones, brain damage, or internal hemorrhaging would be examples of elevated aggravated assault.

Elevated aggravated assaults are Class A crimes and carry 30-year maximum prison sentences and up to $50,000 in fines.

(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A, §§ 208-B, 208-C (2024).)

Defenses to Assault Charges in Maine

A person facing assault charges can fight the charges in several ways, including by poking holes in the prosecution's case or by raising an affirmative defense.

Self-defense. A defendant might claim self-defense or defense of others if the alleged victim started the altercation or was about to. To be justified in using force against another, the defendant must believe the harm is imminent and only use a reasonable degree of force in defense. (Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A § 108 (2024).)

Reasonable doubt. The defense might also try to poke holes in the prosecution's case by arguing the prosecution failed to prove the required intent or injuries. In this case, the defense might be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced.

Getting Legal Advice and Representation

If you face assault charges, contact a criminal defense attorney. A local attorney can help you understand the charges and what's at stake, discuss options, and defend your rights. Even if the charges seem minor, having a criminal record for any assault can result in time behind bars, fines, and fees, as well as impact your ability to obtain employment or housing in the future.

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