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Is Heroin Possession a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Maine?


Heroin in Maine: Felony or Misdemeanor?

There is an interesting legal ambiguity right now in the state of Maine regarding heroin. For a long time the possession of heroin was a felony charge, and as such carried all the implications a felony conviction could carry. As we have talked about before, felony convictions can have lifelong consequences. A few months ago the Maine legislature passed a law reducing the punishment for the possession of a small amount of heroin from a felony to a misdemeanor. However, because of the timing of the bill at the end of the legislative session, currently both laws are on the books.

Watch the video to learn more.

Here is a transcript of the video:

Is heroin possession a misdemeanor or a felony in Maine?

A big problem right now in the State of Maine is that there is a lot of heroin on the streets. There are a lot of people struggling with addiction right outside my office door and really all over the state.

For a long time possession of any amount of heroin, even a tiny little residue on a plastic bag, was a class C felony which is punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. The Maine State legislature has made an attempt at changing that and so if it’s a first offense of possession of heroin. There is now a law in the books only for the past couple of months  that can only be a misdemeanor.

Due to a snafu in the end of the legislation session, the law books right at this second, have it listed as simple possession of any amount of heroin as a first offense is both a felony and a misdemeanor. So we have both laws on the books side-by-side right now and as I speak it’s a matter of prosecutorial discretion. The prosecutor can decide whether to charge you with a felony or a misdemeanor.

I think the intent of the main legislature is pretty clear. I think they want you to first offense heroin possession to be misdemeanor in the state of Maine but right now that’s still in flux. It is absolutely crystal clear that a second offense is certainly a felony. And of course possessing heroin in a certain amount can lead to a trafficking charge, even without any evidence of buying or selling the heroine itself. Just by having enough of it the state can certainly charge you with trafficking.