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How prison sentences are determined in Maine

Posted by Albert Hansen | Nov 20, 2019 | 1 Comment

When a judge convicts someone of a crime in Maine, he or she has considerable discretion as to the sentence imposed. The length of the incarceration will depend on a number of predetermined factors, as well. According to the Office of the Maine Attorney General, the classification of the crime determines the maximum sentence for many offenses.

The state no longer divides classifications between felonies and misdemeanors. Classifications and maximum incarceration periods are as follows:

  • Class A: 30 years
  • Class B: 10 years
  • Class C: five years
  • Class D: 364 days
  • Class E: six months

A murder conviction could result in life in prison, and there are a few other exceptions to the classification maximums as well. Minimum penalties may also be part of the equation.

So how does a judge choose whether or not to go with the maximum penalties? Here are a few of the circumstances he or she may consider:

  • The defendant's age
  • The defendant's ability to make restitution
  • The defendant's motive
  • Prior criminal history of the defendant
  • The victim's age
  • The effect the crime has on the victim

The judge may also want to use the severity of the sentence to deter future crime, not just on the part of the defendant, but for others in society who may avoid the action if the penalties are harsh.

On the other hand, the judge may believe that the offender is not a threat to society, and imposing a harsh penalty would be counterproductive. In that case, he or she may impose probation, restitution and community service. As noted by the Maine Revised Statutes, another important purpose of sentencing is rehabilitation.

About the Author

Albert Hansen

DWI, OUI, superior and district court cases, domestic violence, habitual offender, all motor vehicle/license cases, felonies, misdemeanors and violations, as well as divorce/domestic relations are the areas of practice for Attorney Albert Hansen.  Al Hansen is a 1991 graduate of Bates College, fo...


Marie Hayden Reply

Posted Jul 24, 2020 at 10:52:09

Hello. Wouldn’t it be “conflict of interest” if the Judge in a murder trial was the sister-in-law of the top prosecutor, the AG , Janet Mills, now Governor..also, is it legal to give someone restitution in addition to the life sentence? Thanks in advance..

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