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Offenses Against The Person

Criminal Threatening

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The following is not legal advice but is for information only. Legal advice is when an attorney applies the law to a person's individual circumstances and advises them on their legal options or potential exposure to legal harm, which a web page clearly does not.


Criminal threatening in Maine refers to the act of intentionally or knowingly (the intent) making a threat to commit a crime that would result in danger to another person's life, safety or property. The threat can be made through words, gestures or other conduct that puts the alleged victim in fear of imminent harm. 


Normally, criminal threatening is charged as a class D misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $2,000 and up to 364 days in jail or prison (if the sentence is longer than nine months) but can also be elevated to a felony depending on several factors.  Sentences can be 'straight' time, split to include a period of imprisonment and probation, or fully suspended with probation. Repeat offenders or those who use a deadly weapon to make the threat may face harsher penalties.


It is important to note that the prosecution must prove that the charged person intended to cause fear in the alleged victim. They also have to prove the charged person had the apparent ability to carry out the threat.


Criminal threatening can be charged as a standalone offense or as part of a domestic violence charge. The main difference between criminal threatening and domestic violence criminal threatening is the relationship between the alleged victim and the accused person.

In domestic violence criminal threatening cases, the complaining witness and the alleged offender are related by blood or marriage, live together, or have a dating or intimate relationship. The consequences of a domestic violence criminal threatening conviction can be more severe than those of a standalone criminal threatening conviction.

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