ALFRED — A criminal defense attorney from Hollis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence criminal threatening last week as part of a plea agreement in which a felony domestic violence charge was dismissed.

Rick Winling, 46, was sentenced by Justice Paul Fritzsche in York County Superior Court on Jan. 16 to what is called a deferred disposition. If he stays out of trouble for nine months, the conviction will be withdrawn and the misdemeanor charge will be dismissed, according to court records.

Winling initially was charged with domestic violence criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, a felony punishable by as much as five years in prison. He was accused of threatening his wife on Sept. 27.

As conditions of Winling’s sentence, the judge ordered him to refrain from using alcohol or illegal drugs and to undergo counseling.

If Winling violates the terms of his sentence or gets charged with a new crime, he will face a new sentence of as much as a year in jail, court records say.

Because Winling was sentenced in the court where he commonly practices, the case was prosecuted by a substitute from the Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office rather than by the York County District Attorney’s Office. He was represented by Thomas Connolly.

Winling, who works for the Fairfield and Associates law firm in Lyman, continues to practice for the firm.

“I’ve never seen somebody turn a tough situation into such an opportunity. He’s one of the finest attorneys and best people I know,” said Amy Fairfield, the attorney who owns the firm, in a statement on Winling’s behalf.