Articles Posted in criminal-defense

IMG_1832x-286x300In Maine, your income makes no difference in how much your ticket will cost. The fine scale is predetermined and applies evenly to everyone, which seems reasonable. But is it really fair? That all depends on who you are and how much money you make. For some, a speeding ticket could be devastating and for others, it could be nothing more than a slight annoyance.

Lets say that you are driving on the interstate with a speed limit of 60MPH and you get a ticket for going 75MPH. The cost for this tickets will likely be around $200. According to datausa.io, the median household income in Maine is around $55,000 a year. That means that this ticket would be 4.36% of your household income for the month. This would perhaps be a difficult hit, but at the end of the day, would not be the end of the world. It would probably be a good incentive to be more careful and to drive slower in the future. This is exactly the hope of the law makers who set the fee scale for the ticket.

But now lets say that the NFL commissioner gets the same $200 ticket while he is at vacation house in Maine. His income, according to USA Today, is around $40,000,000 a year. That would mean the same ticket would be 0.006% of his monthly income. That type of punishment would be the equivalent of the person making $55,000 a year getting a ticket for around 28 Cents. Is there really any incentive there to follow the speed limit? There are other penalties such as possible license suspension that come with enough points on your license. But if your income is high enough, paying a driver a full time salary would be a realistic option. That is obviously not an alternative for the average Mainer.

police-search-768x512-1-300x200What is an illegal stop?

If the police illegally stop you, then there is a chance your case could be thrown out! The problem is that the police can stop you for so many things. In order for a stop to be legal, the police only need articulable suspicion that a crime or traffic infraction has occurred. That means the list of reasons the police can use to justify a stop is very long. You can be stopped for anything from improper tinted windows to driving one mile per hour over the speed limit.

Once you are stopped for any legal reason, if the officer finds more evidence of a totally different crime, such as an odor of alcohol or slurred speech, then the investigation can turn into something completely separate from the reason for the stop. You could be stopped for going 5 miles per hour over the speed limit and then it could turn into a drinking and driving investigation.

IMG_8633-002-300x232

Temporary order

The first thing you need to be aware of is if there is a temporary order in place when you are served the order. A temporary protection order takes effect as soon as it is signed by a judge. However, the defendant must have actual notice of the temporary order, or have been served with the order, in order to be charged with a crime for violating it. Even if you feel that the allegations are false and the case is eventually found in your favor, the temporary order still must be respected or you could face criminal charges. For example, if the temporary order prohibits you from entering a home you shared with the plaintiff, you will be charged with a crime if you enter the house, even if the plaintiff has invited you. Violation of a temporary protection order is a Class D crime that carries penalties of up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

Difference between harassment and abuse order

oui-maine-768x576-1-300x225

After getting an OUI/DUI in Maine, there is often lots of questions that may come into your mind.  Most of them have answers that can be found.  One that is much harder to track down is the costs and fees that come from an OUI in Maine.

Court Costs

A first offense OUI is a Class D crime, which has a maximum jail sentence of 364 days, and a maximum fine of $2,000.  The mandatory minimum penalties are a fine of $500, plus court fees. Court costs often change due to added surcharges which are 20% or more of the actual fine amount, therefore the $500 fine really ends up being closer to $650. If you refused to submit to a test, you will then face a mandatory minimum fine of $600 plus the 20% or more  surcharge so the fine would be around $785.

IMG_1864-300x200What should I do first?

You should call a lawyer right away. If you have not been arrested but think you might be soon, your lawyer could set up an arrangement to allow you to turn yourself in rather than have the PD show up to your house or even your job. If the PD is reaching out to you to get your side of the story, you should not speak to them without a lawyer present. This may be your chance to give your side of the story, but it is more likely that things will only get worse after this interview.

What should I do to help my case?

Maine’s Move Over Law: Safety for Police Officers and Safety for You

Saco and Portland Maine Criminal Lawyer Katherine Campbell

By: Maine Criminal Defense Attorney Katherine M. Campbell

It is well known that when you see an emergency vehicle driving up behind you with its lights or siren activated, you pull over. But one important law that many motorists fail to follow is Maine’s “Move Over” law which also requires you to move over when an emergency vehicle is stationary on the side of the road.

You’ve been stopped and arrested for Operating Under the Influence of alcohol (OUI/DUI/DWI). You posted bail, and now you’re home. You’re terrified and have no idea where things go from here. All you did was drive your motor vehicle! You cannot believe you got a first offense DUI in Maine. At work everyone asks, “A drunk driving charge? Is this your first OUI?”

What were your test results? Blood alcohol level? Breath test? Blood test? Refusal? What are the first offense OUI penalties? If this summons for OUI/DUI/DWI is a subsequent offense to other significant driving convictions, we’ll be discussing them in a future blog. But for now, let’s take a minute and talk about the Maine first DUI.

When you are charged with a first offense in Maine, you actually have two cases going on at the same time. I try to get clients to visualize two trains on parallel tracks leaving the station together. On one track you have the court (the judge, the clerks, the DA’s Office), and on the other track you have the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. In most cases, long before the arraignment date for your court case (Plead not guilty!), the Bureau of Motor Vehicles BMV (also commonly known as “DMV”) will send you a Notice of Suspension. This is where we discuss loss of license. If you have not contacted a law firm at this point, you should do so now.

DUI Marijuana Laws in MaineEven if you are not stoned, you can lose your license in Maine if you are convicted of DUI marijuana, also known as DUI weed. Maine drug law says that if there is probable cause to believe you are under the influence of some drug, and you show a positive test for a drug metabolite in your urine or hair tests, your driver’s license will be suspended.

The problem with this marijuana impaired driving law is threefold.

First, probable cause is a very low standard of proof. It isn’t even proof that something is more likely than not, it is a mere suspicion based on observed facts. How little proof is required? The case of State v. Webster, 2000 ME 115, the defendant made an illegal U-turn. When police stopped him he denied any recent drinking, but the officer smelled alcohol on his breath. The officer then gave Webster field sobriety tests which he PASSED. Despite passing the tests, Webster was arrested. His breath tested at a .10% alcohol.

alochol-300x199When I last wrote I discussed whether a warrant was needed for a breath test. I argued that a warrant was needed based on previous Supreme Court cases. I was happy that one judge agreed with me.

Well, a couple of weeks ago the Supreme Court decided North Dakota v. Birchfeld. They held that a breath test was a search, but that a warrant wasn’t needed. The Court basically said a breath test is not particularly intrusive. They concluded it can be done when someone is arrested as a search incident to that arrest. Again, one judge – Justice Sotomayor – agreed with me, that a warrant should be required.

The Court reaffirmed that a warrant is needed for a blood test. They also held that a state cannot make it a crime to refuse a blood test without a warrant because that would penalize people for asserting Fourth Amendment rights when the person insisted on a warrant. Although urine tests were not at issue, they will probably be treated the same way as blood tests, and a warrant will be required. I still think these rules should apply to breath tests, too.

 

breath-test-300x199-1

In 2013 the Supreme Court held in Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S.Ct. 1552 (2013), that a blood draw is a search requiring a warrant or a warrant exception. Since then I’ve been arguing that the same logic applies to a breath test. I based this argument on Skinner v. Ry. Labor Executives’ Ass’n, 489 U.S. 602 (1989) that held a breath test is a search. Skinner did not address the warrant issue because of special circumstances associated with regulation of the railway industry. Up until now I’ve had little success. Judges are reluctant to change decades of practice, even if that practice was unconstitutional. Last week I finally won a round in this fight.

In last week’s case my client was given field tests and then asked to voluntarily come down and take a breath test. He asked the natural question, “What if I don’t want to?” The officer told him that he would be arrested and taken to jail if he didn’t agree to take the test. If he agreed to take the test the officer promised to bring him home and not to jail, regardless of the test result. I moved to suppress the breath test for a lack of a warrant or warrant exception.

In a motion alleging a warrantless search, the state has the burden of proving there was a valid warrant exception. Recognized warrant exceptions are search incident to arrest, consent, exigent circumstances and a few others. The Supreme Court, in Arizona v. Gant, 129 S.Ct. 1710 (2009), limited the search incident to arrest exception to the extent that it cannot apply to breath or blood tests. Exigent circumstances are situations where it is extremely impractical for the officer to obtain a warrant in time to conduct a meaningful search, or some sort of emergency. In my case the state did not argue exigent circumstances. It is unlikely that any such argument would have been successful. Instead they focused on consent.

Contact Information