Is It Better to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer from Lincoln or Omaha?
Court procedures in Lincoln, Lancaster County and Omaha, Douglas County are different. At Berry Law, we have attorneys and offices in both Lincoln and Omaha and our attorneys have a unique insight into the differences between the two communities.
The Fear of Getting “Hometowned”
While courts should treat all lawyers who appear before them the same, having worked with the same judge and prosecutor in previous cases can be an advantage in terms of knowing what to expect as well as what tactics and techniques have worked in the past.
But They All Know Each Other
While Berry Law has offices in Lincoln, Omaha, and Seward, we have also been hired to represent persons charged with crimes in counties where we don’t have offices. Sometimes the primary reason people want an out-of-town lawyer is that they live in a small town and want someone from outside the town to protect their interests. They fear that everyone in the town’s legal community is too close, so they want a lawyer who will not be intimidated or pressured to keep the opposing lawyer happy.
Are These Fears Legitimate?
If you talk to enough attorneys, you’ll hear about lawyers who felt they were hometowned when practicing in an unfamiliar jurisdiction. While this may be true, it may also be that the attorney simply failed to study the local rules, learn the policies of the county attorney’s office, or become familiar with the judge’s court room and sentencing practices.
Differences Between Lincoln and Omaha
One of the biggest differences can be found in drug cases. For example, in interstate drug cases involving a charge of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, our experience has been that defendants with no prior criminal history stopped in Omaha are more likely to get significant reduction in charges and probation or a fine. However, defendants arrested in Lincoln for felony marijuana crimes are more likely to get prison time.
While the Douglas County Attorney’s Office has in the past shown a willingness to negotiate a sentence such as a recommendation for probation, the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office in Lincoln will not make any sentencing recommendations for probation.
While Douglas County, like most counties in Nebraska, sets felony cases for pretrial hearings, Lancaster County sets the same cases for docket calls. While both hearings serve the purpose of assisting the judge in managing his trial docket, they are handled differently. For example, in Omaha most pretrial conferences occur in the judge’s chambers. While the defendant is often required to be present, he will not have a hearing on the record unless there’s a reason to do so. In Lincoln, the docket call (which serves a similar purpose the pre-trial conference) requires that each defendant and his or her attorney appear and state the status of the case on the record in open court.
While much of the other procedures are the same, it is important for the lawyer that practices in both jurisdictions to know that cases are handled differently.
Our team of criminal law attorneys has experience practicing in Lincoln, Omaha, and the surrounding counties. If you have been charged with a crime in Nebraska, please contact Berry Law today.