Countdown to Cameras in Nebraska Courts – New Rule Starts March 2017

The countdown to cameras in Nebraska courts is on. If you’re in a Nebraska district or county court after March 1, 2017, you may see a new thing in our State – news cameras inside the courtroom doors.

Nebraska is joining many other states, including Iowa, that have had cameras in their trial courtrooms for years. States like Nebraska, however, have been hesitant to allow electronic recording in courtrooms.

What the new Nebraska rule says

The new Nebraska Supreme Court Rule allows electronic cameras in Nebraska courts, recording and social media posting from the courtroom. But don’t show up at your local courthouse with a video camera or your smartphone looking to become a YouTube correspondent.

Only approved news media outlet representatives with approved equipment are allowed to record or report electronically from the courtroom. Anyone looking to provide expanded coverage under the rule has to ask for permission in advance, using a specific written form.

Under the rule, a judge can approve someone outside the approved list of media outlets who asks to take part in providing coverage in the courtroom. However, everyone looking to report from court must follow the rule’s written request and approval requirements.

There are other restrictions to cameras in Nebraska courts as well:

 

The rule doesn’t require expanded media coverage, it only allows for it. Not every Nebraska judge will allow expanded coverage in their courtroom, and the decision is up to their discretion.

The case for and against cameras in the courtroom

Cameras in Nebraska courts and other electronic recording in the courtroom have long been a hot topic of discussion.

On one side of the issue, those opposed say that the expanded coverage brings with it a risk of making witnesses afraid to testify and jurors afraid to serve, making a mockery of the judicial system, or tainting potential jurors’ opinions of a case.

There’s also concern that it may change the way a judge communicates with attorneys and his or her staff during a proceeding, cause a distraction, or disrupt the courtroom.

While some of those arguments are compelling, state courts that have allowed cameras in the courtroom have kept their expanded coverage rules – maybe for very good reasons. Some believe expanded coverage is important to the public interest.

Those in favor of expanded courtroom coverage say it gives people who otherwise may not ever go into a courtroom as close to a first-hand court experience as possible. They believe that look inside the courts can be a teaching mechanism to give people a better understanding of how our judicial system works, and increase their confidence in the courts. There’s also an argument that cameras in the courtroom supports the public’s “right to know” what happens in our judicial system.

If you think cameras in Nebraska courts will be an issue for you

If you have a case coming up in a Nebraska court that isn’t in one of the excluded categories in the infographic above, the question of cameras in the courtroom may hit close to home.  You should talk with your attorney so you’re both prepared if you think your case might attract media attention.

Media making a request for coverage must do so via a special form. They have to send the form request to the Judge and all attorneys. If you don’t have a lawyer, they have to send a copy to you. The judge will decide whether to approve the request. Depending on the type of hearing the media wants to cover, you may be able to object if you choose.

If you want to object to a media request for expanded coverage in your hearing or trial, you or your lawyer has to file a written objection. Be aware, however, there’s a time limit to file your objection. Also, it must be sent to all parties, and to those requesting to cover the hearing.

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For details about the author, Susan Reff – a Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney practicing in criminal defense, DUI, and family law –  visit her profile page.

Find out more about how Susan and Hightower Reff can help with your criminal case. 

If you need help with a DUI, criminal defense, or family law case, contact Hightower Reff Law todayand come visit with Partner Attorney Susan Reff or one of our other experienced attorneys at the firm’s Omaha office

Nebraska DUI and the DMV – 7 Things You Should Know (Infographic) (DUI Process Series Part II)

girl-dui-dmvThe holidays are a time to celebrate, and a favorite time for law enforcement to look for drunk drivers. Of course, drunk or drugged driving can be deadly and you shouldn’t do it – during the holidays or any other time. It also carries legal consequences, including court issues, as well as issues with Nebraska DUI and the DMV.

If you’re ticketed or arrested for driving under the influence in Nebraska, DUI and the DMV process is something you’ll need to know about.

The DMV process doesn’t impact the court proceedings regarding your DUI, but it does affect your ability to drive legally. (For more information about the court end of the Nebraska DUI process, see the first part of this series, Nebraska DUI Court Process – Ten Things You Should Know.)

This information is meant to make things more clear, but it’s not a substitute for hiring an experienced DUI Lawyer. When you do sit down with your DUI defense team, these seven things about the Nebraska DUI DMV process may help you feel less anxiety during what can be a scary time.

 

 

More on ignition interlock

The ignition interlock device attaches to your car’s ignition system. It requires you to pass a breathalyzer test before your car will start. If you qualify for the ignition interlock permit, you’ll be allowed limited driving privileges.

But wait, there’s more…

Your Nebraska DUI DMV plight isn’t finished after you go through all of the things in the infographic, however. There’s even more to do.

After all of the stuff in the infographic is finished successfully, you have to start the process to reinstate your driver’s license with the DMV. To accomplish that, you’ll have to do even more things. Depending on your DUI offense, you may have to pass a driver’s test, pay a reinstatement fee, and complete a chemical dependency evaluation, treatment and education.

Nebraska DUI and the DMV – Don’t go it alone

I’ve been representing clients in cases involving Nebraska DUI and the DMV in the Omaha area for many years. I know the ins and outs of both the DUI court process and the DUI DMV processes. Both can be complicated, and it’s easy to make a mis-step if you don’t have good legal support.

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Susan Reff, visit her profile page.

Find out more about how Hightower Reff can help with your DUI case

If you need help with a DUI, contact Hightower Reff Law today at the downtown Omaha office, and arrange a time to talk with Partner Attorney Susan Reff

 

Nebraska DUI Court Process – Ten Things You Should Know (Infographic) (DUI Process Series Part I)

nebraska-dui-10-things-you-should-knowThe Nebraska DUI court process can be confusing, and it’s the last thing you want to worry about during the holidays. The best thing to do is not to drink and drive – of course. Good people make bad mistakes, however.

Clarity is key

I’ve been a practicing Nebraska DUI attorney in the Omaha area for many years, and I’ve met quite a few good people who’ve made bad mistakes. I understand. I do my best to help my clients through a very hard time in their lives by giving them the best representation possible, as well as clarity about their case. Clarity can be especially important when you’re going through a Nebraska DUI.

Two separate processes

To make going through a Nebraska DUI cases even more difficult, in addition to the court process – which addresses the legal penalties of a DUI offense – there’s also a Department of Motor Vehicles hearing process. That process will determine what happens with your license.

This infographic focuses on the court end of a DUI. Stay tuned for the next part in Hightower Reff’s DUI process series to find out about DUI DMV procedure ins and outs.

 

 

Plan Ahead

Again, it’s never okay to drink and drive. Before you head out for holiday parties, have a plan for a designated driver, a friend who will pick you up, or have your Uber app or the number of a cab company handy. On busy holidays, it may be best to be sure you have a designated driver or a sober friend or relative on standby incase cabs and Uber drivers are backed up.

The Nebraska State Patrol posts a calendar of selected enforcement locations throughout Nebraska on their website.

Don’t go it alone

Getting a DUI in Nebraska can be a very big deal. It can turn your life upside down – for a long time. Having an experienced DUI attorney who will fight for you and help you make the best decisions during both the court process and the DMV process is crucial.

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Susan Reff, visit her profile page.

Find out more about how Hightower Reff can help with your DUI case

If you need help with a DUI case, contact Hightower Reff Law today at the downtown Omaha office, and arrange a time to talk with Partner Attorney Susan Reff

Nebraska DUI Penalties Clickable Infographic – Your Freedom and Your License On the Line

If you’re facing a DUI and want to know what you may be in for, look no further. I know the legal penalties of a Nebraska DUI are one of the first concerns when someone gets a pulled over for DUI, because it’s most often the first thing clients ask when they come to see me for an initial consultation on their DUI case. Their freedom and their driver’s license are on the line. Below is a handy Nebraska DUI Penalties Clickable Infographic.


Hightower Reff Law is a team of confident, clear, committed attorneys representing clients in the Omaha metro and surrounding areas in family law and criminal defense/dui.


Each infographic frame is clickable, with links to resources like the the Nebraska statute that lays out the DUI penalties, Nebraska DMV ignition interlock info., Hightower Reff’s DUI defense practice, and more information about me.

Nebraska-DUI-Penalties-Clickable-Infographic-hightower-reff-law_block_1nebraska-dui-penalty-infographic-hightower-reff-law_block_2nebraska-dui-penalty-infographic-hightower-reff-law_block_3nebraska-dui-penalty-infographic-hightower-reff-law_block_4

 

I’ve been a criminal defense/DUI attorney for more than 15  years. I know good people make mistakes. I get it.

If you’re one of them, don’t compound the mistake of getting a DUI by going into the Nebraska DUI court process or the Nebraska DUI DMV process without knowing the score. Educate yourself and enlist the help of an experienced Omaha DUI lawyer as soon as possible.

If you’d like a PDF of the Nebraska DUI Penalties Clickable Infographic to print or download, click here.

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney Susan Reff, visit her profile page at our main website.

You can learn more about Hightower Reff’s DUI defense practice at our main website.

If you need help with a DUI case, contact Hightower Reff Law today and arrange a time to visit with Susan by phone or at the Omaha office.

DUI Myths Debunked – Part I

shutterstock_241535338-thumb-400x267-65292-thumb-400x267-65293There are a lot of urban legends, tall tales and misinformation going around about DUI laws in Nebraska. In other words, DUI myths.

In this two part series – DUI Myths Debunked, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney and criminal law guru Susan Reff sets the record straight about some popular DUI myths.

While it’s never a good idea to drink or take drugs and drive, it can be helpful to have an understanding of what the law really says on the topic of driving under the influence.

 DUI Myth #1: Everyone gets at least one DUI. It’s no big deal.

False. Even one DUI can be devastating. You can lose your driver’s license for up to one year, pay a $500 fine and may spend up to sixty days in jail.

If your job requires you to drive, this could mean you can’t work. Also, many employers do background checks on prospective employees, so even one DUI conviction could make it more difficult to find employment.

If you are convicted, Nebraska law says you will also have to pay for an alcohol assessment before your sentencing. If it recommends treatment and the judge orders it, you have to pay for that too – and it won’t be cheap. Alcohol treatment programs can cost several thousand dollars.

DUI Myth #2: If the car isn’t moving or I’m not actually driving when the police officer sees me, they can’t give me a DUI.

False. You can be convicted of driving under the influence if you are driving a motor vehicle or are “in actual physical control” of a motor vehicle.

Most often these DUI without actually driving cases happen when someone is asleep at the wheel in a parked car.

DUI Myth #3: Using breath mints or mouthwash or sucking on a penny can fool a breathalyzer.

This is also false. There is an urban legend that the copper in a penny can fool a breathalyzer but it isn’t true. Of course, this is a moot point anyway since today’s pennies are made mostly of zinc, not copper.

Regarding mouthwash and mints: mouthwash or certain breath mints containing menthol can actually cause a false fail of a breathalyzer test because they can be read as mouth alcohol.

The breathalyzer is meant to measure the alcohol on your breath coming from inside your lungs, but it can also pick up alcohol in the mouth – or other substances that can read as alcohol in the mouth. For this reason, police officers always check the inside of your mouth before administering the breathalyzer test so they can make sure nothing is in your mouth that can be misread on the test.

DUI Myth #4: If I refuse to take sobriety tests, police can’t arrest me.

This is also not true. Nebraska law says that by driving a car, your consent is implied to a chemical test or test of your blood, breath and urine to determine if you are driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance.

A police officer with reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving or in the actual physical control of a motor vehicle can require you to submit to sobriety testing.

You can refuse the field sobriety tests without being charged, but not the preliminary breath test (at the scene) or the test at the station. If you refusethat testing, you can be charged with a separate crime and the officer must advise you of that – or the State can’t bring separate charges. The refusal to submit to testing can also be used as evidence against you regarding the DUI charges.

Don’t Go It Alone.

Hightower Reff knows DUI law. Don’t base your decisions if you get a DUI on what you think the law says, or you may fall victim to DUI myths. If you or a friend needs help, contact us. A DUI can be devastating and you shouldn’t go it alone.

Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us about your case during an initial consultation. Don’t go it alone.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.

What to Expect When You Get a DUI in Nebraska – Part II

shutterstock_384250570-thumb-300x200-69902Drinking and driving is never a good idea. The consequences of choosing to do it can turn your world and the worlds of innocent people upside down.

If you get pulled over for drinking and driving in Nebraska, there will be a criminal process where you will face financial penalties and possible jail penalties. There will also be a separate Department of Motor Vehicles process that will deal with your ability to keep your driver’s license. This series of articles will cover both processes.

In Part I of this series on Nebraska DUI, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney and DUI law guru Susan Reff  talked about the first steps of the DUI criminal court process. In this second part, she covers preparing for a plea or your trial and going to court for adjudication of your charges in your trial.

To Plea or Not to Plea

To plea or not to plea…that is the question. It’s crucial to have an experienced DUI attorney who has reviewed the State’s evidence advise you when you make your decision.

Before your attorney gives you a recommendation, he or she will have access to all evidence the State plans to present at the trial against you. Your attorney may also try to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor.

Based on the strength of the evidence and the outcome of the plea negotiations, your attorney will offer you his or her best advice as to whether to enter into a plea agreement with the State or take your chances at trial. The final decision, however, is always up to you.

Going to the Show (Trial)

If you choose to go to trial, you can also choose whether your case is heard by a judge or by a jury. Your attorney will help you make that decision also, along with designing the best defense strategy for your case.

In some cases, your trial may happen quickly – within a month or two – but if the courts are busy or your case is complicated, it could take up to a year. In the meantime, depending on how you handle the separate DMV administrative process dealing with your driving privileges (more on that in separate blog articles to come), and the severity of your DUI and prior offenses, you may or may not be able to continue to legally drive.

The trial itself usually takes a day or less, depending on the amount of evidence to be presented by you and the State.

Stay Tuned… 

Next time in our Nebraska DUI series: after the trial.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.

What to Expect When You Get a DUI in Nebraska – Part I

shutterstock_251600833-thumb-320x205-69378-1

Drinking and driving is never a good idea. The consequences of choosing to do it can turn your world and the worlds of innocent people upside down.

If you get pulled over for drinking and driving in Nebraska, there will be a criminal process where you will face financial penalties and possible jail penalties. There will also be a separate Department of Motor Vehicles process that will deal with your ability to keep your driver’s license. This series of articles will cover both processes.

The Stop

The dreaded flashing police lights – it’s how most DUI’s start – the traffic stop, and citation or arrest. If the Nebraska Highway Patrol pulls you over, you’re going to be arrested, no matter what county you’re in.

If, on the other hand, you’re pulled over by Omaha Police or Douglas County Sheriff, you will probably be ticketed and released. They do arrest in some circumstances, however.

Now’s the Time to Get a Lawyer

Get a lawyer right away. Don’t wait until you’ve made statements to the police that could hurt your case.

When the stop happens, as I’ve said in past DUI blog articles, you have the right to keep your mouth shut – so keep your mouth shut. Don’t make any statements that could be used against you. That means don’t answer questions. The officer may still give you a ticket or arrest you, but you won’t be giving them any more evidence to use at trial.

Call a lawyer who knows Nebraska DUI law immediately to help you through the rest of the criminal and DMV process.

Arraignment and Bond

Next in the criminal DUI process is arraignment and bond. If you’ve been charged with a felony DUI, you’ll be arraigned by a judge within a day or two. You’ll have a formal reading of the charges against you and will enter a plea of guilty, no contest or not guilty.

If you haven’t consulted with a lawyer who has advised you otherwise, it’s best to plead not guilty at your arraignment, not to make any statements to police or the judge, and GET A LAWYER RIGHT AWAY before you make any decisions or do anything that could affect the outcome of your case.

If you were arrested on a misdemeanor DUI, you can usually bond out right away without seeing a judge to have a bond set. If that happens, or if you were ticketed and released, you will go to court for your arraignment where you will likely plead not guilty.

Stay Tuned… 

Next time in our Nebraska DUI series: getting ready for trial, plea bargaining and going to the show (trial). Stay tuned.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

A Change in Nebraska DUI Law Could Be on the Way

shutterstock_251600878-thumb-500x332-66952-thumb-300x199-66960Recently, we filled you in on Nebraska DUI laws and myths in Part I and Part II of our DUI Myths Debunked series. Now, a big change in Nebraska DUI law could be on the way thanks to the United States Supreme Court.

Warrants? We Don’t Need No Stinking Warrants.

In Nebraska today, if you refuse a blood, breath or urine test when pulled over by law enforcement, you could face criminal charges – even if police don’t have a warrant.

The law currently allows for what is called a warrantless search. Taking your blood, breath or urine and examining it for evidence is a search, just like searching your home would be. And, typically, searches require warrants. But Nebraska law allows the search to happen without a judge first finding that law enforcement has shown there is probable cause for the search and then signing a warrant to allow the search based on that finding.

(As a refresher – if you think you can’t be charged with a crime for refusing the test, think again. The law in Nebraska says that, by operating a motor vehicle, your consent is implied to determine if you’re driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you refuse those tests you can be charged with a separate crime for refusing.)

Well, Maybe We Will…

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases dealing with warrantless chemical testing in DUI cases, which could significantly change DUI law in Nebraska and the other states that currently allow warrantless searches.

The defense attorneys who asked the Supreme Court to review the issue say warrantless blood, breath and urine tests violate a person’s constitutional rights. The petition with the Supreme Court presents some compelling arguments about why there are no exceptions that would make the constitutional violations legal.

The lawyers also note states disagree about the issue. The laws of 37 states don’t allow for such warrantless searches, but the laws of 13 states (Nebraska included) do.

Don’t Go It Alone

DUI law – like many areas of the law – is ever changing. Hightower Reff knows DUI law and keeps up with the changes. If you or a friend needs help, call us. A DUI can be devastating and you shouldn’t go it alone.

Call the office at 402-932-9550, or contact us online and make an appointment to come visit with us about your case during an initial consultation.  Don’t go it alone.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.