A conviction for sexual assault in Nebraska has the potential to bring life-changing consequences. From incarceration to mandatory sex offender registration, the outcome of your case could follow you forever. However, you have the right to legal representation in your case, and the dedicated sex crime defense attorneys at Berry Law can help you fight back against these charges.

While an arrest on sexual assault charges is never easy to deal with, it is important to remember that a conviction is not certain. Many people accused of these offenses see their cases dismissed or beat the charges at trial. Let a Nebraska sexual assault lawyer help you fight back against these serious criminal charges.

Types of Sexual Assault Offenses in Nebraska

According to Nebraska law, there are three different types of sexual assault offenses. Each type of offense carries steeper penalties than the next. The potential penalties for first-degree sexual assault are the highest, while third-degree sexual assault carries the lightest potential penalties. The sentencing range for second-degree sexual assault rests between the other two offenses.

First-Degree Sexual Assault

Of the three types of sexual assault offenses, first-degree sexual assault is the most serious. This offense is governed by Nebraska Revised Statute 28-319. Under this statute, there are three acts that constitute first-degree sexual assault, and each of them involves the sexual penetration of another person.

Any sexual penetration without the other person’s consent is first-degree sexual assault. It is also against the law to sexually penetrate someone who lacked the physical or mental capacity to resist those advances. A prosecutor could secure a conviction if they are able to show that you either knew or should have known the other party could not consent.

A prosecutor may also seek a conviction for first-degree sexual assault if you were at least 19 years of age while the other party was between 12 and 16 years of age at the time of the alleged act. In all cases, first-degree sexual assault is a Class II felony. A conviction for this offense could lead to anything between one and 50 years in state prison.

The penalties are steeper for anyone with a prior conviction on their record. Any person previously convicted of a sexual assault offense must serve at least 25 years in prison for a subsequent offense.

Second-Degree Sexual Assault

Second-degree sexual assault is also a felony under state law and is governed by Nebraska Revised Statute 28-230. This offense differs from first-degree sexual assault in that it covers only sexual contact as opposed to sexual penetration. Additionally, any offense involving a minor is not covered by this statute.

There are two ways the prosecution could establish a case for second-degree sexual assault. First, they could attempt to show that you subjected another person to sexual contact without their consent.

Second, the prosecution could argue that you knew or should have known the other party was physically unable to consent or appraise the nature of the conduct but made sexual contact anyway. In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must establish that the alleged act resulted in serious physical injury to the other party.

As a Class IIA felony, the maximum penalties for second-degree sexual assault are steep. A conviction could bring about as much as four years of incarceration in state prison. There is also a maximum fine of $25,000.

Third-Degree Sexual Assault

There is little difference between second- and third-degree sexual assault. This offense involves sexual contact with individuals who have not or cannot consent. The major difference between the two offenses is that third-degree sexual assault covers sexual contact that does not result in serious physical injuries.

There is another important difference between these two offenses. Third-degree sexual assault is the only form of misdemeanor sexual assault under state law. This means the maximum jail term for a conviction is one year in county jail. If you are facing any of these three sexual assault charges, you should speak with a skilled lawyer from Berry Law who has experience with these types of cases.

Potential Defenses for Sexual Misconduct Allegations

There are many different approaches a sexual assault attorney in Nebraska could use when building a defense strategy. Each case is different, meaning some defenses could work better for certain people than others.

Consent

The issue of consent is central to most sexual assault cases. By establishing that the complaining witness consented to the sexual contact, you could avoid a conviction. It may be possible to establish consent by questioning the complaining witness or other witnesses that person may have spoken with. While consent is a valid defense for second- and third-degree sexual assault, it is not a legitimate argument for first-degree cases involving persons aged 12 to 16.

Lack of Evidence

It is important to remember that the state—not the defendant—holds the burden of truth in a sexual assault trial. If the state cannot prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, a jury must acquit you. Sometimes, the strongest defense involves simply highlighting the lack of evidence provided by the state.

With this approach, you and your attorney could focus on attacking the evidence offered by the state. It is not unusual for defendants relying on a lack of evidence to refuse to testify or otherwise offer evidence of their own. You do not have any obligation to prove your innocence, as the jury must assume you are innocent until you are proven guilty.

Mistaken Identity

In some cases, the complaining witness is unsure of the identity of their attacker due to fading memory, intoxication, or darkness at the time of the incident. There may be minimal evidence that shows you were the person involved in the alleged assault. A strong defense attorney could make the case that the complaining witness mistakenly identified you as the perpetrator.

A mistaken identity claim is most viable in cases involving allegations related to strangers or remote acquaintances. It might be more difficult to establish a mistaken identity defense in cases where the two parties know each other well.

False Allegations

Although it is rare, some allegations of sexual assault are false. These accusations could be falsified for a variety of reasons. For example, the complaining witness could feel embarrassment or shame after a consensual sexual encounter. A defense attorney from Berry Law could highlight the inconsistent statements made by the other party or elicit testimony from other witnesses that make it clear the sexual assault allegations were fabricated.

Registering as a Sex Offender in Nebraska

The most notable collateral consequence of a sexual assault conviction is mandatory registration as a sex offender. Since 1997, the Nebraska State Patrol has overseen a statewide registry for all sex offenders. Any sexual assault conviction requires a lifetime registry.

If you are convicted, you must maintain updated housing information on the registry at all times. At least three days prior to moving, you must provide notification of the move. If the move is to a different county, this process includes notifying the sheriff in the new county of your move.

Failing to register as a sex offender is a Class IIIA felony. The penalties for conviction could be even more severe than those for some sex crime convictions.

Multiple violations related to the sex offender registry can lead to a minimum prison time of one year. If you are dealing with charges related to sex offender registration after a sexual assault conviction, seek legal counsel right away.

Dealing with the Other Collateral Consequences of a Conviction

The jail time and fines that are associated with sexual assault convictions are significant on their own. However, there are also collateral consequences to be aware of. Collateral consequences are not directly linked to a criminal statute but can still negatively impact your life.

Even if you agree to a plea bargain for lesser criminal penalties, you cannot avoid the collateral consequences associated with a conviction. There is a loss of constitutional rights that comes with a sexual assault conviction—particularly for felony offenders.

If you are convicted of a felony, you will lose your right to own, possess, sell, or carry firearms. You also lose the right to vote for several years.

A sexual assault conviction could also wreak havoc in your personal and professional life. Applications for employment or housing are often rejected due to prior sexual assault convictions. Additionally, if you rely on a professional license to earn a living, you may have that license revoked permanently.

A sexual assault conviction could also impact your custody rights. This is especially true in cases where the court orders incarceration or the complaining witness was under the age of 18. If you are an immigrant, a sexual assault conviction could even lead to deportation. A lawyer in Nebraska could provide useful guidance on any potential collateral consequences a sexual assault conviction might bring.

Contact a Nebraska Sexual Assault Attorney Right Away

The mere allegation of sexual assault could have devastating consequences on your life. The actual consequences of a conviction can be much worse. Do not face serious criminal allegations on your own. Call a Nebraska sexual assault lawyer right away to set up a confidential consultation about your case.

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