. The following definitions shall be used in making a
determination of financial eligibility:
Income. Income means actual available current annual total cash
receipts before taxes of all persons who are resident members of, and
contribute to, the support of a family unit. Income may also include potential
wages from seasonal employment when the applicant has a history of seasonal
employment. Types of income include, but are not limited to: wages, income from
self-employment, rents, royalties, child support, alimony, Social Security
benefits, including SSDI and SSI, TANF benefits, VA benefits, general
assistance, cash benefits, unemployment compensation, workers compensation,
insurance or pension benefits, strike benefits, interest, dividends, and
military family allotments. Income does not include in-kind assistance such as
food stamps or vouchers.
Cash assets. Cash assets means cash on hand; money in
savings, checking, IRA, certificates of deposit or other readily accessible
accounts; stocks or bonds that can be sold; and cash bail unless another person
has been designated as the owner of the cash pursuant to 15 M.R.S.A.
assets. Other assets include equity in real estate equal to
an amount necessary to obtain a home equity loan; cash value of insurance
policies; cash value of pension, retirement, or profit sharing plans to which
the applicant has access; equity value of major personal property items such as
boats, snowmobiles, and motor vehicles that are not needed for work or family
transportation; valuable jewelry; antiques or collections; and any other
property that could be sold, exchanged, or used to obtain a loan.
Necessary Monthly Expenses
Necessary monthly expenses include only expenses necessary for the following:
(2) shelter, including mortgage payments on a
principal residence, rent and utilities;
(3) medical care, including medical insurance
premiums paid by the applicant and installment payments on debts for medical
(4) employment, including
loan payments on a vehicle used to get to work and uniforms required by the
minimum payments on credit card debt and payments on student loans and long
term (longer than 6 months) personal loans.
Expenses for items not listed above should not be included in
the calculation of necessary monthly expenses.
Procedure for determining
financial eligibility and amount of reimbursement. The following procedures
shall be used for determining financial eligibility and the amount of any
A. Determine gross
income and assets of the applicant and all members of the applicant's family
B. If the cash assets of the
applicant and the applicant's family unit exceed the amounts set forth below,
the applicant is not eligible for assigned counsel. For adult criminal and
juvenile cases: $1,000 in cases where the most serious charge alleges a Class D
or E crime; $2,000 in cases where the most serious charge alleges a C crime;
$3,000 in cases where the most serious charge alleges a B crime; $4,000 in
cases where the most serious charge alleges a Class A crime; and $2,500 for
child protective cases.
C. If the
applicant's cash assets are less than the amounts above, it is necessary to
determine whether the applicant can convert other assets into cash so that the
applicant can retain an attorney. If the other assets are such that they can be
used to hire an attorney, the applicant is not eligible. If the applicant is or
has been converting cash assets into other assets, such as making a large down
payment or substantial monthly payments on a motor vehicle or similar item,
this fact can be taken into consideration in determining eligibility.
D. If the applicant's cash and convertible
assets equal less than the amounts listed in Paragraph 2, the income amount
should be compared to the appropriate amount on the Income Table attached as
Appendix A. The Income Table is based on 110% of the federal poverty guidelines
and shall be updated by the Commission annually on July
1st. If the income of the applicant and applicant's
family unit is less than the appropriate amount on the Income Table, the
applicant is eligible for assigned counsel.
E. In order to determine whether the
applicant can reimburse the State for the expense of assigned counsel, compare
the monthly income of the applicant with the applicant's necessary monthly
expenses. If income exceeds necessary monthly expenses, the applicant should be
required to make periodic payments based on the amount by which income exceeds
necessary expenses to reimburse the State for the cost of assigned counsel.
Payments should be required up to an amount equal to the maximum fee set by the
Commission for the type of case for which counsel is assigned. Maximum fees are
set forth on Appendix B. Cash and convertible assets that are available but are
insufficient to disqualify an applicant under subsection 2 should also be
considered when determining whether an applicant can make reimbursement and the
amount of reimbursement.
Applicants whose income exceeds 110% of the federal poverty guidelines may be
eligible for assigned counsel if they have extraordinary necessary monthly
expenses that render them unable to retain counsel. In such cases, an order for
reimbursement should be entered unless the interests of justice demand
G. In any case where a
person represented by assigned counsel subsequently retains counsel, the court
should, when granting assigned counsel leave to withdraw, order the person to
reimburse the State for amounts expended for representation by assigned counsel
prior to the entry of appearance of retained counsel.