Most people charged with crimes fear prison time, but the thought of being found not guilty and having a criminal charge on their record for the rest of their lives is also an immediate concern. As their cases develop and criminal defense attorneys better understand the details, clients begin to think of the long-term ramifications of how being found not guilty will affect their reputation, time, and finances.
In the past, Berry Law has achieved dismissals or not guilty verdicts for clients who still faced collateral issues that affected their employability. For example, a criminal defendant whose charge is dismissed or is acquitted may still lose a job and face damaged reputation. At the end of the day, the fact that someone was arrested and criminal charges were brought against them never goes away. In today’s fast-paced social media culture, this type of information gets out quickly, regardless of what happens in the court system.
Fortunately, some of that damage has been minimized. Pursuant to Nebraska revised statute § 29-3523, all records, including any information or other case data concerning any proceedings related to a criminal defendant including arrests, taking into custody, petition complaint, indictment information, trial hearing, adjudication, correctional supervision, dismissal, or other disposition, are sealed when a criminal defendant in Nebraska is found not guilty at trial. This means that as soon a person is found not guilty at trial, their court filings and records are not part of the public record and cannot be disseminated to anyone other than criminal justice agencies.
In the past, someone who was charged with a crime and won at trial would still have a black mark on his or her record. Anyone making a background check could easily find through courthouse records that the person was charged with a crime but found not guilty.
Members of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association testified several times in front of the legislature about this important issue and lobbied to change the laws to protect the reputations of those found not guilty at trial. Innocent persons charged with crimes watched their lives fall apart; even if they had done nothing wrong, many opportunities were closed to them forever.
At Berry Law, we have represented people falsely accused of crimes and have seen firsthand how criminal charges destroyed lives regardless of the outcome. Often, our clients who enjoyed successful careers found that unless criminal charges were cleared up immediately, they would lose the ability to advance in their field or compete with their peers for promotions.
The advantage to getting a not guilty verdict, pursuant to Nebraska revised statute §29-3523, is that after the defendant receives a not guilty verdict and the case is complete, the court will seal the record.
While not everyone wants to take a case to a jury trial, it is important to understand that getting an acquittal or dismissal will seal public records which could lessen the collateral consequences of the criminal charges.
If you are facing criminal charges and are concerned about how those charges could affect your future, please contact the Berry Law.