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.