Finding out there’s a felony warrant for your arrest turns your world upside down. Not only are your freedom and your future on the line – if it is your first arrest, you’ll have no idea what to expect. This series will give you the basic information you’ll want to know if you or a loved one is facing a felony criminal charge in Nebraska.
In Part I, you’ll learn your options once you learn of the warrant and what to expect once you are arrested.
(Don’t) Take it on the Run, Baby
You will be taken into police custody – usually by walking into the police station. If you hire us, we will take you in and be with you through the booking process.
Whether you have a preliminary hearing will be up to you and your attorney, and will depend upon your case. During the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor has to show probable cause for every element of the crimes with which you are charged to show the court that they have enough evidence to go forward with the case against you.
It’s a catchy sounding song lyric “take it on the run,” but not a good idea if you find out there’s a felony warrant out for your arrest. No attorney worth their salt would ever tell you to do it. Neither will Hightower Reff Law. What you should do – call us BEFORE you talk to the police or turn yourself in.
We can contact the police for you and arrange for your peaceful, quiet surrender, and make sure your rights are protected from the beginning of the case.
We will talk to the police for you in most cases. What you say to them can be used against you, but what we say to them can’t. Also, it’s perfectly legal for police to trick you into saying things – but we know all the tricks.
A police officer will advise you of your rights and the charges against you before or after booking. During the booking process, you will be finger printed, photographed, and your personal belongings will be inventoried and taken for safekeeping. For this reason, we advise clients to leave all watches, money, and jewelry at home when they turn themselves in.
Depending on the charge, you may be held in jail pending a hearing to set your bond. In most felony cases, you will go to jail when you surrender.
Shut it, shut it, shut it
You have the right to shut it. So, shut it. You have the right to remain silent – that means to NOT speak to the police. In most cases, that is exactly what we will advise you to do. Despite what you may have seen on your favorite crime drama show, people almost never talk the police out of arresting them. Usually, they just add nails to their coffins instead.
First Court Appearance
After your arrest, you will have a hearing in county court called an Arraignment and Bond Setting Hearing (unless you are charged with a felony and the prosecutor has taken special steps. Then, you may have this hearing in district court).
You will appear in court, the judge will advise you of the charges against you and possible penalties, and you will enter a plea. Your attorney will talk about plea options with you before the hearing.
In felony cases, you usually can’t enter a guilty plea in at the initial appearance, even if you could, we recommend our clients enter a not guilty plea while we do the ground work on the case that’s necessary to do a full evaluation of your best options.
You will also tell the court whether you want to exercise your right to a preliminary hearing.
Preliminary Hearing – Maybe yes, Maybe no
If you waive the preliminary hearing at the initial appearance, the judge will send your felony case to district court.
If you have a preliminary hearing and the prosecutor is able to provide the required probable cause – your case will be also sent to district court or, “bound over.”
Next Time in the Series
Watch for Part II of our felony FAQ series – To Plea or Not to Plea.
In the meantime, if you or a loved one needs help with a criminal case, Hightower Reff can help. Contact us online, or call us at 402-932-9550
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.