Maine Acts to Strengthen Stalking Laws

Maine Acts to Strengthen Stalking Laws

This winter, both the Maine Legislature and the Maine Law Court acted to protect a strong statutory response to stalking crimes in our state.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Counterman v. Colorado raised constitutional questions about some of Maine’s statutes, including our stalking statute.  The decision immediately resulted in litigation in Maine’s courts. Since then, MCEDV has worked with our community partners to advocate that the Maine Law Court make clear that an abusive person’s repeated communications to a victim is conduct that is not protected by the 1st Amendment and to also advocate for the Maine Legislature to take swift action to clear up any questions about the constitutionality of Maine’s laws.

On January 31st, the Law Court issued its decision in State v. Labbe. The Court upheld Labbe’s felony stalking conviction, holding that a person’s repetitive unwelcome contact with the victim can, by itself, sustain a stalking prosecution, without regard to the content of those communications. The next day, the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary voted unanimously of all present to support LD 2085, An Act to Update Maine’s Domestic Violence and Stalking Laws. And on March 8, Governor Janet Mills signed LD 2085 into law.

Stalking is a common behavior used by abusive people against their victims; domestic violence advocates work with people experiencing stalking daily. While more work remains to ensure that our stalking laws are implemented effectively, we are proud that Maine took swift action to maintain our strong legal framework for stalking response.

Many thanks to the Maine Prosecutor’s Association, the Maine Office of the Attorney General, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Pine Tree Legal Assistance and Senator Anne Carney for their partnership in this effort.