Androscoggin County Jail Criminal Court Process

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Criminal Court Process for Androscoggin County Maine

Information on the criminal court process for offenders arrested in Androscoggin County Maine and booked into the Androscoggin County Jail. From the arrest to the sentencing and everything in between.

Androscoggin County Jail Criminal Court Process

Criminal Court Process for Androscoggin County Maine

Androscoggin County Maine Criminal Court System - Definitions

It might be helpful to define some words that will be used on this site, when explaining the Maine Court System and how it works. The definitions on this site are for general information and not legal advice. It is always preferred to follow information given by your attorney or local authorities.

If you scroll down below this content, and the listing of the courts in Androscoggin County, you will find a simple flowchart diagram and a video that will help you visualize the stages of the Criminal Court Process.

Arrest is when the Androscoggin County Sheriff or local police take a person into custody and start the legal process. The arrested person may or may not be immediately jailed. 

Booking is when the local police gather information such as the detainee’s name, address and why the person is being arrested. Booking also includes fingerprinting, criminal history, investigation, and verification of identity. Bail for lower-level crimes may be set right after booking so the arrested can “bail or bond out” before being detained. 

In Maine, it is during this time of arrest and booking that the bail is set by a pre-determined amount from the court or by a judge or bond commissioner. In most cases, the bail commissioner can set the bail type, amount and any conditions. There are times when bail is set at the arraignment.

Arraignment is when a judge determines whether the charges are supported by the prosecution’s initial evidence and tells the arrested what they are charged with, and the person says whether they are guilty or not guilty. At this time, the person is called the defendant, and the opposing side is called the prosecution. If there is reason to believe that the arrested is guilty, the judge will set bail conditions or send the defendant to jail or release them ROR (release on recognizances). An arraignment is not a trial, and the defendant is entitled to a trial within a reasonable amount of time after the arraignment.

The prosecution, sometimes called “the government” or “the people” or “the state” is the side that presses the charges and seeks punishment for the offense. These are attorneys that work for the state of Maine, Androscoggin County or a city or town.  The prosecuting attorney for Androscoggin County or the district is called the District Attorney or Assistant District Attorney. A U.S. Attorney prosecutes federal cases.  

Jurisdiction is an important term in the court system that means whether a court has the obligation or duty or right to handle a case.  For example, if you run a red light in your town or city, a municipal court would likely have jurisdiction over your case, but the next town or city over would not have jurisdiction over your case.  If you attempted to flee from police when they attempted to stop you after you ran the red light, it becomes a more serious crime, and the municipal court might not have jurisdiction so you might be assigned to a higher-level court that has jurisdiction over the more serious crime.  Jurisdiction varies from state to state and sometimes county to county.

It is always important to have family involvement after being arrested.  Not only can they make calls and communicate on your behalf but family support will show the court that there are people who will make sure that the defendant makes it to court, not only for the defendant’s own good, but because they may have signed bond paperwork to be responsible if the defendant does not show to court. 

Maine courts will process bonds, eliminating the need for a professional bond company. 

There are three types of bonds recognized by the Maine courts:

1.    A personal recognizance bond which is the promise and signed statement of the defendant to abide by conditions of release and return to court when ordered.  There is no money or property (almost always real estate) to be put up. The bail commissioner may charge up to a $60 fee.
2.    An unsecured Bond is when the defendant is released without paying bail upfront, but they must pay the full amount if they do not appear in court. The bond commissioner can charge up to a $60 fee to execute this type of bond. If the defendant fails to appear in court or violates a condition of bail, the judge may issue a warrant for arrest.
3.    A secured Bond is when the defendant pays a portion of the bail up front in cash, or property.  If they show to court, the cash or property (valued at least 1 ½ the amount of bail) would be returned and if they don’t show up to court, would have to pay the entire bail amount.  The bail commissioner may charge up to a $60 fee. 

A criminal defense attorney (also called lawyer or counsel) is hired or retained to represent the arrested as early as possible after the arrest.

If there is a chance that the case might go to trial and the defendant cannot afford an attorney, the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires that the court provide an attorney. This is called indigent representation and a public defender or assigned attorney would represent the defendant in all proceedings.

Indigent representation is only available misdemeanor and felony cases that could result in jail time, juvenile cases, and certain appeal cases. The Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services oversees the assignment of attorneys for indigent defense.  Maine is one of the only states to only use private attorneys for public defense.

For less serious cases or civil cases, there are pro bono volunteers who volunteer legal services for free or for a small fee. They often hold clinics to teach people how to represent themselves in court. This website provides contact information for legal aid services in Maine.

Many courts will provide forms and help for people who want to represent themselves, called pro se.  Here is a link for legal self-help in Maine.

A district court can refer to the first level of the legal system, or a minor court. District courts are in the community.  A district court can also refer to a U.S. Federal District Court that hears federal cases. There is one U.S. federal district court in Maine, with offices throughout the state. It is important that you check the address of the court you are to appear in rather than to ask someone because that person might give you directions to the wrong “district” court. Being late for court can land you in custody as well.

Pretrial proceeding is the process where both sides (prosecution and defense) gather information, interview witnesses, request records, videos etc. Pretrial proceedings also include communications with the judge assigned to the case and these appearances are either in person or by on-line conferencing. Some pretrial proceedings may not require a defendant’s appearance, allowing an attorney to appear in their place. The information that is gathered is called discovery and both sides must share the information that they have gathered.  This information does not include conversations between the arrested and their attorney.

Most cases do not go to trial because both sides reach a plea deal, where both sides try to reach a reasonable punishment based on what was learned in the pretrial proceedings.  A plea deal can only happen if the accused person admits they are guilty in exchange for a lighter punishment.  The reason they must admit guilt is because it would not be fair to punish someone who claims they are not guilty.  There are times in plea bargaining when the prosecution agrees to give a lighter sentence in exchange for information leading to the arrest of a more serious criminal related to the crime.  

Trial is where both sides share their information in front of a judge or a judge and jury. After listening to all the evidence, the judge or jury decides the verdict which is whether the person is guilty or not guilty. If a court has only a judge hearing both sides, it is called a bench trial.  If a jury is selected, it is called a jury trial.  If the defendant is found not guilty, they are released.  If they are found to be guilty, the next step is sentencing.

Sentencing is the punishment that the judge decides the person should get. This could be jail or prison time, fines, community service, probation, or a combination.

Appeal is asking for a higher court to hear the case again at an appellate court.  If the accused person thinks something went wrong at trial or has new information that was not available during the trial or that the sentence is too harsh, the defense attorney can ask for an appeal. It is not unusual for an appeal when there is a long jail sentence, but an appeal can be denied if the appellate court feels that the original trial or sentencing was fair.

Maine Felony vs Misdemeanor

In Maine, misdemeanors and felonies are not separate crimes.  Maine classifies all crimes into seriousness of crimes from A to E. 

  •     Murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life in state prison with no possibility of release.
  •     A - Manslaughter, kidnapping, rape, arson carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in state prison and/or a $50,000 fine.
  •     B - Aggravated assault, drug trafficking, burglary of a residence carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and/or a $20,000 fine.
  •     C - Perjury, burglary, theft of $1000-$5,000 carries a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine.
  •     D - Assault, operating under the influence, heft of property valued between $1000-$2,000 carries a maximum sentence of 1 year imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine.
  •     E - Disorderly conduct, operating after suspension, theft of property valued less than $1000 carries a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment and/or a $1000 fine.

A warrant is used to get someone to appear in court or to law enforcement.  There must be good reason to believe that the person is involved in a crime. The warrant gives authority to arrest the person and search for evidence for the investigation of the crime. 

A criminal summons is issued to request that a person appear in court at a particular time and date.  It does not involve an arrest.  A traffic ticket, summary citation or lesser misdemeanor could be considered a summons if you are given a court date.

A summary citation, commonly referred to as a ticket, is a criminal summons by a law enforcement officer either in person or via mail accusing the defendant of a minor offense, stating potential fine, listing the court having jurisdiction and instructions for addressing the issue. Defendants may or may not be required to appear in court or handle the matter by entering a plea via mail.

Fines are usually paid to the Clerk of Court and payment methods can be found on the District Court website. If you do not pay your fine on time, you can lose your driver’s license, must pay additional fees or even have a warrant for your arrest.  It is important to read the instructions on the ticket issued by the police officer or court at the time of your arrest. For a parking ticket or summary citation, the fine amount and how to send payment should be on the ticket. 

Maine Criminal Court System - How it Works

The Maine state courts consist of the Supreme Court that hears appeals, the Superior Court and the District Court.  There are no municipal or county courts in Maine.

District Courts in Maine are part of one unified system and each court is identified by the city or town that the courthouse is in.  The Maine District Courts each have a family court and hear civil and criminal matters. Criminal matters handled in District Court include all juvenile matters and contested traffic infraction cases which do not result in jail time. 

Juvenile court or Youth court in Maine handles cases for individuals under the age of 18 and operates separately from Superior and District courts.

The Superior Court in Maine is identified by the name of the county that the superior court is in.  Aroostook County has two superior courts.  Superior courts handle any criminal case, misdemeanor or felony that can result in trial.  

Specialty courts or treatment or problem-solving courts are being adopted in many states as a way to handle cases that involve non-violent and first-time offender cases in a way to where the offender can retain a job or responsibilities while following specific orders of the court as returned court appearances, periodic evaluations or testing for substances. Maine offers problem-solving courts solutions throughout the state that offer attention to the following areas: adult drug use, juvenile drug use, dependency, DUI, mental health and veteran court.   The treatment court schedule for your area in Maine can be found online.

There is not an intermediate Appeals Court in Maine. Any appeals from Superior court will be handled in the Law Court of the Supreme Judicial Court.

The Supreme Judicial Court or Supreme Court is similar to our United States’ Supreme Court because it has a panel of judges that rule on matters that have to do with someone’s constitutional rights or policies and laws. The Maine State Supreme Court deals with the Maine state constitution or laws or policies. Sometimes the Maine Supreme Court will hear criminal cases on appeal when there is question on the state laws or procedures that lead to the appeal.  The criminal cases are usually referred from the district courts of appeal.

Federal Court deals with crimes involving violations of United States laws.  Federal crimes include federal drug trafficking, federal tax evasion and fraud that crossed state lines and include crimes that occur on federal property as post offices or federal buildings.  Cases involving crimes that involve the FBI or DEA or Immigration agencies are federal crimes.  Terrorism is a federal crime. There are some differences in the Federal court system as compared to the state court system. For example, the attorneys who work for the courts are called United States Attorneys and Federal judges are called District Court Judges (not to be confused by local state district courts).  Federal Magistrate Judges hear the case early on, but they do not decide on the cases at a trial like the Federal District Court Judges. In a federal case, a grand jury is used for indictments. There is one U.S. Federal Judicial District in Maine.

The Judicial Branch Violations Bureau handles traffic tickets for the entire State of Maine through a centralized process. Traffic violations are non-criminal offenses also called traffic infraction. The following website contains a video and instructions on how to pay or contest your traffc case.

The Maine Supreme Court is like our United States’ Supreme Court because it has a panel of judges that rule on matters that have to do with someone’s constitutional rights or policies and laws. The Maine State Supreme Court deals with the state constitution or laws or policies. Sometimes the Supreme Court will hear criminal cases on appeal when there is a question on the state laws or procedures that lead to the appeal.  

The criminal cases are usually referred from the district courts of appeal.

Specialty courts or problem-solving courts are being adopted in many states to handle cases that involve non-violent and first-time offender cases in a way to where the offender can retain a job or responsibilities while following specific orders of the court as returned court appearances, periodic evaluations or testing for substances. * 

FEDERAL COURT

Federal Court deals with crimes involving violations of United States laws.  Federal crimes include federal drug trafficking, federal tax evasion and fraud that crossed state lines and include crimes that occur on federal property as post offices or federal buildings.  

Cases involving crimes that involve the FBI or DEA or Immigration agencies are federal crimes. Terrorism is a federal crime. 

There are some differences in the Federal court system as compared to the Maine state court system. For example, the attorneys who work for the courts are called United States Attorneys and Federal judges are called District Court Judges (not to be confused by local state district courts).  

Federal Magistrate Judges hear the case early on, but they do not decide on the cases at a trial like the Federal District Court Judges. In a federal case, a grand jury is used for indictments.

There is one U.S. Federal Judicial Districts in Maine.

Courts

DISTRICT COURT SMALL CLAIMS
71 LISBON ST
LEWISTON ME, 04240
207-795-4801

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