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Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction

Jail Time & Probation

Domestic Violence Assault is a Class D crime in the State of Maine if the accused person does not have any prior convictions in the past ten years of a domestic violence crime, violation of a protection from abuse order, or a felony DV bail violation. A Class D crime is what is often referred to as a "misdemeanor," because the maximum amount of time a person convicted of a Class D crime can be sentenced to jail or prison is 364 days. 

Similar to charges of so-called "simple assault," the specific factual scenarios of a domestic violence assault can vary widely across a broad spectrum of conduct and the jail time requested or offered by a prosecutor or ordered by a judge can potentially run the gambit from 0 days all the way to the maximum at 364. More often than not, however, the proposed and/or the final sentence will involve a "split sentence" with some jail time up front followed by a period of probation.

A "split sentence" is what it is called when a defendant is ordered to go to jail and then is on probation when he is released. A split sentence may be written like so: 180 days, all but 60 suspended, 2 years of probation. so the convicted person is sentenced to 180 days in jail, but will only initially serve 60. Once he has served that 60, he is released and begins his probation. While on probation, that remaining 120 days serves as something of a bank account that the prosecutor will tap into if the convicted person violates probation. In the event of a probation violation, the violator can be sentenced to serve anything from 0 days all the way up to the remaining 120. 

If the violator serves the remaining 120, then probation is terminated, because the bank account is empty. If the violator serves less than that, and there is still a balance leftover, then the violator will resume probation upon his release and will remain on probation either until probation itself has expired (unless he violates enough times to use up the remaining balance). As you can probably imagine, this sometimes results in a vicious cycle of incarceration.

A person convicted of a Class D misdemeanor typically may be sentenced to serve a period of probation for up to 1 year. For Class D Domestic Violence Assault, however, the period of probation may be up to 2 years.

Collateral Consequences

Certain crimes carry with them more lasting effects than a fine or some jail time.  When it comes to OUIs, for instance, once you have a single conviction on your record then the mandatory minimum sentences will be increased if you should ever be charged with a second OUI (within ten years). If a non-citizen is convicted of a crime, there are immigration consequences. If you are convicted of even a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, well, there are collateral consequences to that too.

Even when a misdemeanor, a domestic violence conviction is somewhat still treated as being more like a felony than just another misdemeanor, in that it involves a lifetime federal firearms prohibition. After being convicted of even a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (whether it is DV Assault, DV Terrorizing, DV Criminal Threatening, etc.) the convicted person will for the rest of their lives no longer be able to legally purchase or even possess firearms or ammunition. Now obviously this consequence will mean more to some people than others, but even if you do not currently hunt or own firearms for personal protection it is still a fundamental Constitutional right that you could potentially be deprived of forever if accused of a domestic violence crime. 

Also, and maybe this goes without saying, but if convicted of a crime of domestic violence you will be marked for the rest of your life. Every background check, every traffic stop, every job screening, and possibly even every Google search will result in the words "domestic violence" and "guilty" staring back at somebody from a computer screen or sheet of paper. That may not technically be a collateral consequence in the legal sense, but it still merits consideration as it is the reality you will be stuck with forever if convicted.

Certified Batterer's Intervention Program

If convicted of a domestic violence crime, you will most likely be required as a condition of your probation to attend a "class" called Certified Batterer's Intervention Program (CBIP). You will be required to pay for the class, remain enrolled in the class, and successfully complete the class before the end of your probation. The official purpose of the class is to educate batterers and abusers about why their conduct is wrong and how it hurts others.