What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Nebraska?
The Nebraska criminal code refers to major offenses punishable by at least one-year imprisonment as felonies and minor crimes with penalties of less than a year incarceration as misdemeanors. When an individual is charged for a crime, they are apprehended and arraigned in a court of law. The bond hearing, also known as a rights notice and advisement, is followed by a preliminary hearing where case is either dismissed or referred to the District Court. At the District Court, the accused enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Depending on what plea the defendant enters, the case proceeds on a plea bargain or a full trial.
What Percentage of Criminal Cases go to Trial in Nebraska?
The State of Nebraska Judicial Branch does not provide any data on the percentage of criminal cases that make it to trial. However, third party independent websites suggest that only 2% of the total criminal prosecutions per year make it to trial in some counties in Nebraska.
When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?
The Nebraska Constitution states that a criminal defendant has the right to a jury trial. However, the defendant can waive this right in favor of a bench trial. Criminal trials may be a bench trial or a jury trial, depending on the offense’s severity. If a defendant faces jail time upon conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor, they must request a jury trial within ten days of arraignment in court.
What Are the Stages of a Criminal Trial in Nebraska?
In Nebraska, a trial begins with a jury selection, also known as a voir dire. The rest of the steps happen in quick succession:
- Swearing of an oath by the members of the jury
- Opening statements from both sides of the case
- Presentation of evidence by the prosecutor
- Establishment of the burden of proof
- Presentation of defense by the defending counsel
- Presentation of rebuttal evidence by prosecuting counsel
- Rebuttal defense
- Motion by the defense counsel
- Closing statements by both parties to the case
- Jury deliberation
- Pronouncement of the verdict
How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Nebraska?
Nebraska state laws direct that all criminal cases must go to trial within six months of filing the charges or arrest, whichever is earlier. This 6-month period is a continuous time frame; the time spent on the following activities is excluded from the aforementioned six months:
- The delay arising from other proceedings that concerned the defendant such as an examination for competency to stand trial, motions to suppress evidence, and other pretrial motions;
- A period of delay arising from a request for an extension by counsel.
What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Nebraska?
Every criminal case has a chance of being dismissed at the preliminary hearing. At the arraignment, the court files the criminal lawsuit and provides the requirements to enter a plea. If an individual enters a guilty or no contest plea, the case diverts to a pre-sentence investigation and a sentencing hearing. The legal counsel may appeal sentences if the outcome does not satisfy any of the involved parties. A not-guilty plea leads to a series of pretrial activities such as discovery and pretrial motions to suppress evidence or dismiss charges. It also includes a pretrial conference that gives allowance for a plea bargain. If a plea bargain does not happen, the case progresses to the major trial. Here, the trial is concluded with a verdict. It is usually the final decision of the judge, although the jury provides direction. County court trials usually comprise a 9-man jury, while a 12-man jury hears District Court trials. If the verdict comes out not guilty, then the defendant is released. If found guilty, a pre-sentence investigation will proceed, after which a sentencing hearing will be scheduled.
Can You Be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Nebraska?
No. The Federal Constitution does not permit the law to convict a person twice for a crime in any state of the US. The Nebraska law adopts this law, which is also referred to it as double jeopardy. It protects a defendant against multiple punishments based on convictions for the same offense. The double jeopardy clause does not disallow the state from prosecuting an individual for various crimes within a single prosecution process. A second trial after an appeal does not put a defendant in double jeopardy either.
How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Nebraska?
County and District Courts document and file records of cases they have heard in their jurisdiction. To inspect or view copies, visit the court of interest with a written request to inspect or copy the records. The cost of inspection and copying may vary from county to county, so it is essential to contact the local courthouse address before commencing an application.
How to Access Electronic Court Records in Nebraska
The Justice Court Case Search System of the Nebraska Judicial Branch allows interested persons to search for court records via remote access. The Justice court case search system is a database that encompasses civil, traffic, criminal, juvenile, and probate cases from all 93 county and District courts. The database is updated every 24 hours from the time a new case comes in. The system provides information only for cases that are public records. The information it provides include:
- Case detail
- Court cost information and fees
- Payments by and to the court
- A register of actions
Requestors are charged $15 per request regardless of whether it returns results. To view court documents directly, the requesting party must be a Nebraska.gov subscriber.
If the information being requested is confidential by state laws, the requestor must redirect such requests using the confidential form to the local courthouse of interest along with a court order to have them released. Some statutorily confidential information in Nebraska include:
- Juvenile Court information
- Eyewitness contact information
- Victim statement or contact information
- All cases under seal for privacy interest
How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Nebraska?
The Nebraska statutes grant persons under probation to file for the vacation of their convictions upon the completion of their obligations. A clear implication of sentence vacation is the sealing of their records from public access. The same rule applies to those pardoned and non-conviction cases as well as cases of a deferred judgment. Juvenile records also qualify for sealing, provided they meet the following eligibility requirements:
- There was an erroneous arrest
- The prosecutor did not file charges or dismissed them
- The juveniles satisfactorily completed court programs arising from mediation, probation, or diversion
The prosecutor must inform the juvenile’s parents of the rights to file for a record seal when the juvenile reaches the age of majority or six months from the case’s closure, whichever is earlier. Records under sales in Nebraska allow the record’s subject to respond as if the offense never occurred.