Maine Statutory Criminal Law

  1. Harassment

    1. Introduction

      In situations in which a WMC victim is harassed, including by an electronic communication device, the state may be able to charge such individual with harassment. The victim may also seek a protective order against the perpetrator.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Offenses against public order (harassment) - Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A § 506-a

      Offenses against public order (harassment by telephone or by electronic communication device) - Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A § 506

      Protection from Harassment - Me. Rev. Stat. 337-A §§ 4651-4661

    3. Cases

      1. Jefts v. Dennis, 931 A.2d 1055 (Me. 2007)

        • Procedural Posture: Appeal from PFH order
        • Law: Harassment/PFH
        • Facts: Ex-husband filed complaint for protection from harassment against ex-wife. The District Court issued permanent order for protection from harassment against the ex-wife.
        • Outcome: The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the lower court decision, saying that trial court did not err in finding that ex-wife’s repeated e-mail messages and embarrassing fax messages, sent to machine in central location in ex-husband’s office, constituted three or more acts of intimidation directed against ex-husband.
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  2. Hate Crimes

    1. Introduction

      Hate crimes may be addressed in Maine through the harassment statutes discussed above, or they may also be prosecuted under Me. Rev. Stat. 17 § 2931 (criminal statute) or addressed by civil action under Me. Rev. Stat. 5 §§ 4681 and 4682 (civil statutes, discussed above) as an interference with a person’s constitutional and civil rights.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Interference with Constitutional and Civil Rights – Me. Rev. Stat. 17 § 2931

    3. Cases

      A search of Maine law did not reveal any cases that are factually relevant or analogous to WMC’s target situations.

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  3. Eavesdropping

    1. Introduction

      Maine law bars the interception, recording, and disclosure of any oral or telephonic communication by means of an electronic recording device without the consent of at least one party to the communication.

    2. Text of Statute

      Me. Rev. Stat. 15 § 710:

    3. Cases

      A search of Maine law did not reveal any cases that are factually relevant or analogous to WMC’s target situations.

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  4. Stalking

    1. Introduction

      In situations in which a WMC victim is repeatedly harassed, the state may charge a defendant with stalking.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A § 210-A:

    3. Cases

      1. Childs v. Ballou, 148 A.3d 291 (Me. 2016)

        • Procedural Posture: Appeal from District Court’s grant of extension of existing PFA order
        • Law: Stalking; PFA
        • Facts: Ex-wife sought two-year extension of existing order of protection from abuse against ex-husband. The ex-husband appealed on the grounds that it violated his right to free speech.
        • Outcome: The Supreme Judicial Court held that trial court’s extension of protection from abuse order protecting ex-wife from ex-husband did not violate husband’s right to free speech. The husband’s conduct went well beyond what he characterized as mere voicing of opinion about his child’s interests, as he had a history of sending an excessive number of messages to his ex-wife and had demonstrated an inability to restrain himself while prior order was in place. The ex-husband had used law enforcement to intrude into wife’s home and stalk her, sent messages in which he implored wife to relax restrictions on contact, referred to “break-up sex,” and leveled accusations about her personal romantic life. His behavior met definitions of abuse and criminal stalking, and extension of protective order was proper.
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  5. Coercion

    1. Introduction

      A person who publishes or threatens to publish intimate photos or videos of another with the intention of forcing the victim into conduct the victim would not have otherwise performed could potentially be charged with coercion.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Me. Rev. Stat. 5 § 4633(2): “Interference, coercion or intimidation. It is unlawful for a person to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with any individual in the exercise or enjoyment of the rights granted or protected by this Act or because that individual has exercised or enjoyed, or has aided or encouraged another individual in the exercise or enjoyment of, those rights.”

    3. Cases

      A search of Maine law did not reveal any cases that are factually relevant or analogous to WMC’s target situations.

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  6. Trespass

    1. Introduction

      The state may pursue criminal charges against a perpetrator for trespass if he or she obtained an image of a WMC victim by trespassing into the victim’s home.

    2. Text of Statute

      Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A § 402 - Criminal Trespass

    3. Cases

      1. State v. Dyer, 769 A.2d 873 (Me. 2001)

        • Procedural Posture: Appeal of conviction
        • Law: Trespass; assault
        • Facts: Defendant contends that the court erred in refusing to give a jury instruction on the use of nondeadly force in defense of premises, which is a permitted under the law. He claims he reasonably believed he was terminating the commission of a criminal trespass by the person he grabbed and threw out of the premises. The person had been ordered to leave by defendant, and defendant claims he had been authorized by the owner of the premises to take care of the premises and make such an order.
        • Outcome: The Supreme Judicial Court vacated and remanded, finding that, viewed in the light most favorable to the defendant, the jury could entertain a reasonable hypothesis that the defendant had authority to convey a lawful order to terminate criminal trespass and was justified in using nondeadly force to terminate that trespass.
        • Special Notes: One who is invited to enter a private residence can become a trespasser, for purposes of the criminal trespass statute, by failing to leave after being given a lawful order to leave by the owner or other authorized person. A mere demand to leave by the owner of a private residence, without providing any reason, constitutes a lawful order for purposes of the criminal trespass statute.
    4. Practice Pointers

      This may be a useful cause of action to bring against a “peeping tom” who enters a WMC victim’s property to take inappropriate photos or videos of the victim, where the perpetrator knows that the victim did not authorize him or her to trespass on the property, and even if he or she was initially invited but stays after the victim asks him or her to leave.

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  7. Computer Crimes

    1. Introduction

      A WMC victim may be a victim of computer crime if the perpetrator takes intimate material from the victim’s computer without his or her permission.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A §§ 431-437

      Section 432(1) provides: “A person is guilty of criminal invasion of computer privacy if the person intentionally accesses any computer resource knowing that the person is not authorized to do so.”

    3. Cases

      A search of Maine law did not reveal any cases that are factually relevant or analogous to WMC’s target situations.

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  8. Cyberbullying

    1. Introduction

      In 2012, the State of Maine passed an anti-bullying law requiring all public schools to have a policy against bullying and harassment, including cyberbullying that impacts students while at school.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Me. Rev. Stat. 20-A § 254, 11-A (model policy; reporting):

      Me. Rev. Stat. 20-A § 6554 (prohibition on bullying in public schools):

    3. Cases

      A search of Maine law did not reveal any cases that are factually relevant or analogous to WMC’s target situations.

    4. Practice Pointers

      The state has provided a number of helpful resources on anti-bullying at https://www.stopbullying.gov/ and http://www.maine.gov/doe/bullying/. These websites provide practical tips for schools, parents, and kids on how to address bullying that has occurred and also on how to prevent bullying.

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  9. Violation of Privacy

    1. Introduction

      Maine has a broad violation of privacy statute that covers a range of unlawful visual surveillance. This may be another useful cause of action to bring against a “peeping tom” who enters a WMC victim’s property or installs something on the victim’s property to take inappropriate photos or videos of the victim.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Maine Rev. Statutes 17-A § 511:

      1. A person is guilty of violation of privacy if, except in the execution of a public duty or as authorized by law, that person intentionally:

      A. Commits a civil trespass on property with the intent to overhear or observe any person in a private place;

      B. Installs or uses in a private place without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy in that place, any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying or broadcasting sounds or events in that place;

      C. Installs or uses outside a private place without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy therein, any device for hearing, recording, amplifying or broadcasting sounds originating in that place that would not ordinarily be audible or comprehensible outside that place; or

      D. Engages in visual surveillance in a public place by means of mechanical or electronic equipment with the intent to observe or photograph, or record, amplify or broadcast an image of any portion of the body of another person present in that place when that portion of the body is in fact concealed from public view under clothing and a reasonable person would expect it to be safe from surveillance.

      1-A. It is a defense to a prosecution under subsection 1, paragraph D that the person subject to surveillance had in fact attained 14 years of age and had consented to the visual surveillance.

      2. As used in this section, “private place” means a place where one may reasonably expect to be safe from surveillance, including, but not limited to, changing or dressing rooms, bathrooms and similar places.

      3. Violation of privacy is a Class D crime.

    3. Cases

      A search of Maine law did not reveal any cases that are factually relevant or analogous to WMC’s target situations.

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  10. Revenge Porn

    1. Introduction

      In 2015, Maine passed a bill expressly criminalizing revenge porn, punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail. The statute was subsequently amended in 2016.

    2. Text of Statute(s)

      Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A §511-A:

      1. A person is guilty of unauthorized dissemination of certain private images if the person, with the intent to harass, torment or threaten the depicted person or another person, knowingly disseminates, displays or publishes a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual act or engaged in sexual contact in a manner in which there is no public or newsworthy purpose when the person knows or should have known that the depicted person:

         

        A. Repealed. Laws 2015, c. 394, § 5, eff. July 29, 2016.

        B. Is identifiable from the image itself or information displayed in connection with the image; and

        C. Has not consented to the dissemination, display or publication of the private image.

      2. This section does not apply to the following:

         

        A. Lawful and common practices of medical treatment;

        B. Images involving voluntary exposure in a public or commercial setting; or

        C. An interactive computer service, as defined in 47 United States Code, Section 230(f)(2), or an information service, as defined in 47 United States Code, Section 153, with regard to content provided by another person.

      3. As used in this section, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.

         

        A. “Sexual act” has the same meaning as in section 251, subsection 1, paragraph C and also includes:

        1. The transfer or transmission of semen upon any part of the clothed or unclothed body of the depicted person;

        2. Urination within a sexual context;

        3. Bondage or sadomasochism in any sexual context;

        4. Simulated sexual acts; and

        5. Masturbation.

        B. “Sexual contact” has the same meaning as in section 251, subsection 1, paragraph D and includes simulated sexual contact.

        C. “State of nudity” means the condition of displaying fully unclothed, partially unclothed or transparently clothed genitals, pubic area or anus or, if the person is female, a partially or fully exposed breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola.

      4. Unauthorized dissemination of certain private images is a Class D crime.
      5. Access to and dissemination of certain private images as described in subsection 1 and any written information describing and directly pertaining to the images contained in court records are governed by rule or administrative order adopted by the Supreme Judicial Court.
    3. Cases

      1. State v. Dunne (see media coverage here)

        • Law: Unauthorized dissemination of certain private images
        • Facts: In 2016, a 26-year-old man was the first person in Maine to be charged under the state’s new “revenge porn” law for two alleged incidents of theft or dissemination of private nude photos. He had allegedly copied a photo of an acquaintance who was topless from her boyfriend’s cellphone after the boyfriend left it on a table at the restaurant where defendant worked and later uploaded the photo to two websites.
        • Outcome: Defendant pled guilty to unauthorized dissemination of certain private images, as well as to other charges, including criminal invasion of computer privacy and theft.
      2. State v. Moss (see media coverage here)

        • Law: Unauthorized dissemination of certain private images
        • Facts: In July 2017, defendant was charged with unlawful dissemination of certain images for emailing sexually explicit photos of his ex-girlfriend to another person.
        • Outcome: Pending.
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