Am I Required to Take the Breathalyzer?

Under Maine law, if there is probable cause to believe a person has operated a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicants, that person shall submit to and complete a test.  19-A §2521.  Typically, a law enforcement officer will ask a person to submit to a breath test, unless the breath test is unreasonable, in which case they may request a blood test.

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If a driver refuses to submit to a test, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) has authority to suspect your license immediately, without a hearing.  Usually, this automatic suspension of your license is for 275 days (for a first refusal), 18 months (for a second refusal), 4 years (for a third refusal), or 6 years (for a fourth refusal).  If a driver refuses to take the test, the suspension from the BMV will run consecutive to the suspension imposed by the court, if the driver is eventually found guilty of Operating Under the Influence.

In addition to the increased BMV suspensions, the Court will also impose harsher penalties for refusing to submit to a test. For example, on a first offense OUI with a refusal, the mandatory minimum punishment requires 96 hours in jail, a $600.00 fine, and a 150-day loss of license. Without the refusal, the mandatory minimum would be a $500.00 fine and 150-day loss of license.

It is a common misconception that the State needs a breath test over .08 to convict a driver of Operating Under the influence.  In reality, the State can prove the crime of Operating Under the Influence simply by proving that the driver’s “mental or physical faculties are impaired however slightly, or to any extent. State v. Worster, 611 A.2d 979 (Me. 1992).

There are many ways to challenge the charge of Operating Under the Influence.  An experienced OUI attorney can attempt to suppress the initial motor vehicle stop, challenge the accuracy of the breath test, or argue that the testing officer did not follow proper protocol, just to name a few.  Call Attorney Eric Thistle today for a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.

Not Guilty Verdict – Gross Sexual Assault (Class B Felony)

Recently, Attorney Thistle and Attorney Winling received a Not Guilty verdict for their client on the charge of Gross Sexual Assault (Class B) in the York County Superior Court, in Alfred, Maine.

The client, a gentleman from Portland, Maine, was accused of engaging in a sexual act with a woman while she was unconscious or otherwise physically incapable, and who had not consented to the sexual act.

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There are many ways to charge Gross Sexual Assault under the Maine statute (17-A §253).  In this particular case, the State’s prosecutor specifically chose to allege that the woman was unconscious or otherwise physically incapable of resisting the sexual act.

Attorney Thistle and Attorney Winling were able to elicit testimony on cross examination from the woman which directly contradicted what she told the officers who responded to her original 911 call.  Once it was established that she had made inconsistent statements, the attorneys for the defendant were able to further impeach her credibility, and ultimately get the woman to say that she no longer remembered important details of the event.  Through the effective use of cross examination, the defense was able to later argue that the woman’s story did not make sense, and that it was more probable that she had consented to the sexual act (through her actions).

In all criminal proceedings, the Defendant always has the presumption of innocence until the State over comes that presumption.  To overcome the presumption, the State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that every element of the crime was committed.

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with a crime, you are presumed innocent.  Even if you feel as though you are guilty, the State may not be able to prove it.  Before you plead guilty, or admit, to any crime, contact Attorney Eric Thistle for a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.

What is an Arraignment?

Your arraignment is the first court appearance on a misdemeanor criminal charge.  In Maine, misdemeanors are classified as Class D and E crimes.

At this point you have been charged with a crime, but are presumed innocent. At your arraignment you will be required to watch a video explaining all of your rights. The judge will likely ask you if you understand your rights before he or she excepts your plea.  You have a variety of important rights, and it’s important that you watch the video to fully understand these rights. If you have any questions, please make sure you consult a qualified Maine criminal defense attorney before entering a plea.

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Understanding Probation in Maine

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Not all criminal convictions are eligible for probation under Maine criminal law. 17-A§1201(1).  Generally, there are caps on the maximum amount of time a person may be on probation for any given conviction, however, the legislature has carved out exceptions for certain serious crimes. 17-A §1201(2).

When a person is on probation in Maine, the judge may impose certain conditions that they believe will help the probationer lead a law-abiding life. 17-A §1204.  Every person on probation will have a condition that they refrain from committing new criminal conduct. Id. The court will also require a monthly payment between $10.00 and $50.00 be made to the Maine Department of Corrections. Id. In addition to the aforementioned required conditions, the court also has discretion in order many other conditions.  Probation is not appropriate for everyone, make sure you are fully aware of all of the conditions before signing any document agreeing to be placed on probation. It is wise to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney prior to voluntarily commencing any term of probation.

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I Got An OUI – What Do I Do Now?

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Being charged with the crime of Operating Under the Influence (OUI) can leave people feeling scared, embarrassed, and unsure of what to do next.

First, if you have not already done so, respectfully assert your right to remain silent.  Depending on your particular circumstances, it may be too late. However, if the police have any follow up questions, it is wise to decline to speak with them.

In Maine, Operating Under the Influence is a very serious charge.  Being a primarily rural state, we all rely heavily on our license and personal vehicles.  The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will likely be sending you a suspension letter shortly after you have been charged with OUI.  Make sure you confirm with them that your current address matches the address on file.  You can be charged with additional crimes if you are found to be operating a vehicle while having a suspended license, even if you did not receive notice that your license was suspended.  It is your responsibility to confirm that the BMV is sending mail to the correct address.

At some point you need to decide whether you are going to (1) hire an attorney, (2) apply for an unknown attorney appointed by the court, or (3) defend yourself.  It goes without saying, but people who defend themselves are at a severe disadvantage.  The State’s prosecutor is an experienced attorney, who wants to get a conviction, a fine, and possibly put you in jail. It is highly recommended that you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer with specific expertise defending operating under the influence charges.

Interview multiple lawyers, and don’t be persuaded by fancy websites. Instead, ask about their recent experience with OUI cases. Ask if they’re familiar with the mandatory consequences from both the court and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Ask if they’ve won any OUI trials recently.  Or if they’ve had any recent criminal trials, at all. These are very important questions!Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 7.46.12 PM

The sooner you retain an attorney, the better chance you have at getting the results you desire. Attorney Eric Thistle regularly represents individuals that have been charged with Operating Under the Influence in York and Cumberland Counties.  Call today for a free consultation.

 

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