Our criminal defense team at Hightower Reff Law helps good people in bad situations. We’ve done it for many years. We get it. When you‘re charged with a misdemeanor in Nebraska, the scariest part can be not knowing what to expect. That’s why we try to make things as clear as we can for our clients. One of the things that helps is filling them in on some of the legal basics.
No article can replace the advice of a good criminal defense attorney, and it isn’t intended to do so. However, this article may give you some information to consider while you search for the right lawyer for your case.
1. Charged with a Misdemeanor Doesn’t Always Mean Jail
The first thing you should know – if you’re going to be charged with a misdemeanor in Nebraska, you aren’t always arrested and taken to jail. Law enforcement may issue a ticket and release you on your own recognizance instead. Regardless, always remain silent until you talk to a lawyer. It’s smart to hire an attorney or ask for court appointed counsel as soon you can.
If you’re taken to jail to be processed after you’re arrested, you may be able to bond out right away without seeing a judge.
Next, there will be an arraignment hearing at which the court will read the charges against you, and advise you of your rights.
2. You Could have a Chance to Keep the Charges Off Your Record…Maybe
The second thing you should know if you’re charged with a misdemeanor – if it’s your first offense, you may qualify for pre-trial diversion. This may happen for cases like minor in possession, possession of marijuana under an ounce, shoplifting and, in Sarpy County, DUI.
Diversion program requirements and lengths vary by county, but if you qualify and complete the program successfully, the criminal charges will be dismissed and no conviction will show on your record.
3. You Might Have to Be Patient – This May Take Awhile
The third thing you should know if you’re charged with a misdemeanor – if diversion isn’t an option and the case moves forward, your attorney will start preparing your case for trial. He or she will talk to law enforcement and prosecutors will evaluate the evidence against you, but it may take a while to get to trial.. if you get there.
Your attorney may also try to negotiate a plea deal for you, depending on the strength of the evidence against you and the other circumstances of the case.
If you aren’t able to reach a plea agreement, or your lawyer advises you not to take a plea deal, there may be pre-trial hearings or motions hearings before your case gets to trial.
If you’re found not guilty after a trial, the case will be dismissed and it’s over.
On the other hand, if the prosecution is able to prove the charges “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and you’re found guilty, you will be convicted of the misdemeanor offense. Your sentencing will happen at a later hearing, after a completion of a pre-sentence investigation.
The entire process from citation or arrest to sentencing can take up to six months, so you might need to be patient and let your attorney do his or her job. If you rush into a decision that isn’t in your best interest just to get the case over with, you may have to deal with the consequences for a long time.
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.