The Victims Project
A Division of Willey Law Offices
Many persons who are victims of crimes, accidents or other wrongs suffer physically, psychologically, and financially from what has been heaped upon them by others. There are a number of rights you have as a victim. Our intent here is to assist you in exploring several options available to you, depending on your injuries as a victim.
Selected Topics of Interest
I. Victims of Crime
The Courts have established restitution as part of sentencing in many cases. Restitution is repayment by the offender to the victim of the crime as a mode of rehabilitation. See 17-A M.R.S.A §1321, et seq.
B) Victims Compensation Fund:
The Legislature has enacted a statue wherein the victims of a crime can apply for reimbursement for a list of eligible expenses and losses to a limited sum. An application to the “Victims Compensation Fund” is required. The claim or crime must be reported very quickly to police (5 days) and a claim filed (60 days of discovery or 1 year of occurrence, whichever is later). See 5 M.R.S.A. §3360, et seq.
C) Accord and Satisfaction:
Maine Law permits in certain misdemeanor (non-domestic violence) cases, the victim and offender to enter into an agreement to resolve the case by a civil (non-criminal) settlement with Court approval. See 15 M.R.S.A. §891.
D) Victim Participation and Notification of Release:
Victims also have access to victim-witness advocates and have the right to speak at sentencing about the defendant who injured them. The victim of a crime has the right to participate in the sentencing process and to receive notification of the defendant's release in certain cases. The victim has, upon request, a right to know of any plea agreement or other disposition, trial or sentencing. See 17-A M.R.S.A. §§1171-1177, 1257.
E) Crime Victims; Profits from Crime:
Maine Law provides the right of a crime victim to be compensated for damages from any profits from the criminal offense. The statute states as follows:
“1. Limitation Period. Actions based upon a criminal offense in which, as that offense is defined, there is a victim, as defined in Title 17-A, section 1711, subsection 2, brought by or on behalf of a victim against the offender must be commenced within the limitation period otherwise provided or within 3 years of the time the victim discovers or reasonably should have discovered any profits from the crime, whichever occurs later.
2. Notice to victims. A person or organization that knowingly pays or agrees to pay any profits from a criminal offense in which, as that offense is defined, there is a victim to a person charged with or convicted of that crime shall make reasonable efforts to notify every victim, as defined in Title 17-A, section 1171, subsection 2, of the payment or agreement to pay as soon as practicable after discovering that the payment or intended payment constitutes profits from the crime. Reasonable efforts must include, but are not limited to, seeking information about victims from court records and the prosecuting attorney and mailing notice by certified mail to victims whose address is known and publishing, at least once every 6 months for 3 years, in newspapers of general circulation in the area where the crime occurred a legal notice to unknown victims or victims whose address is unknown.
3. Definition. As used in this section, “profits from the crime” means any property obtained through or income generated from the commission of a crime; any property obtained by or income generated from the sale, conversion or exchange of proceeds of a crime, including any gain realized by such a sale, conversion or exchange; and any property that the offender obtained by committing the crime or income generated as a result of having committed the crime, including any assets obtained through the use of unique knowledge obtained during the commission of, or in preparation for the commission of, the crime, as well as any property obtained by or income generated from the sale, conversion or exchange of the property and any gain realized by such a sale, conversion or exchange.
4) Construction. Nothing in this section may be construed to expand civil liability or to restrict any defense to civil liability except as specified in subsection 1 with respect to the limitation period.”
14 M.R.S.A. §752-E
II. Accidents, Injuries and Damages
A) Premises Injuries, Lack of Security
Maine permits an injured party to hold the owner and/or operator of property, in many cases, responsible for injuries to persons on the property. If a dangerous condition exists, or a recurring problem or unsafe situation, an injured victim can be compensated for damages incurred. Also, if a bar, hotel, store or other property has a crime problem on its premises or in the vicinity, and a patron is injured by an attack or otherwise, the victim may have a claim against the business owner for negligent security. If alcohol was involved, a “Dram Shop” action may apply in favor of the victim against the business or person selling or providing the alcohol to the defendant. Notices and time limits are involved, so avoid delays. See 28-A M.R.S.A. §2501, et seq (Maine Liquor Liability Act).
Victims of accidents have a right to compensation for their injures caused by the intentional or negligent acts of others, in many case. These can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, permanent impairment, loss of enjoyment of life or recreational losses and loss of consortium, among other damages.
III. Protection From Abuse and Harassment
Maine Law protects family and household members who are victims of abuse or threats of abuse. The District Court has jurisdiction over Protection from Abuse petitions. See 19-A M.R.S.A. §4651, et seq.
We hope that this summary of some of your rights as a victim of a crime, accident or injury will aid you in determining whether you should pursue a claim. It is important to a least talk to an attorney so you have a better understanding of your situation.
Please note that many laws change or are modified over time. The listings above are not intended as legal advice and are our best assessment of selected laws as of 2013. Consult with an attorney for the specific law applicable to the facts of your case.
Please feel free to call us any time you have questions.
N. Laurence Willey, Jr., Esq. and Willey Law Offices