It can be a daunting prospect for a person to know that they will have to appear in court to answer criminal charges. Even relatively minor allegations can result in life-changing consequences after a conviction. After all, any criminal offense in Nebraska can result in a jail sentence and would create a permanent criminal record.
Fortunately, an experienced Omaha criminal lawyer could help you protect your rights in court. Whether you are looking to negotiate a plea deal or fight the charges at trial, a dedicated defense attorney could help you achieve the best outcome possible.
What Types of Criminal Cases Can Omaha Defense Lawyers Handle?
Criminal offenses in our area are separated into two categories. Less severe crimes are charged as misdemeanor offenses. Common examples of misdemeanor crimes include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, simple assault, and minor theft. These cases are typically heard in Nebraska’s county courts and carry a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and/or a fine.
More serious criminal offenses may be charged as felonies. Common examples include homicide and rape, as well as aggravated versions of misdemeanor offenses such as assault and theft. For example, assault that results in serious bodily injury and theft of property in excess of $500 are considered felonies.
The state’s district courts have jurisdiction to hear all felony cases. No matter the severity of the criminal charge you are facing, an experienced criminal lawyer at our firm can help.
What Are the Standard Sentences for Misdemeanor and Felony Offenses?
Nebraska Revised Statutes §28-106 defines 6 different categories for misdemeanor offenses, each with varying maximum penalties. A seventh class (i.e. Class W crimes) is reserved exclusively for DUI offenses and establishes a unique penalty structure for first, second, and third offenses.
Class V and Class IV misdemeanors are punishable by maximum fines of $100 and $500 respectively and cannot result in jail time. A conviction for a Class IIIA, III, II, or Class I misdemeanor can lead to imprisonment in a local or county jail. However, under no circumstances is a court required to impose a jail sentence on anyone convicted of a misdemeanor. That being said, a local criminal defense attorney can protect your rights in and out of court.
There are 10 categories of felonies in the state of Nebraska. A Class IV felony, the least severe felony, carries a potential penalty of up to 24 months in jail and/or a financial penalty of $10,000. Class IA and Class I felonies are the most severe felony crimes a person can be charged with in Omaha. A Class IA felony conviction means incarceration for life, while a Class I felony conviction is punishable by the death penalty.
Non-Criminal Consequences of a Conviction
Avoiding fines and jail time is not the only reason to hire a criminal defense lawyer from Berry Law. In addition to any sanctions imposed by the court, a felony conviction in Omaha will also result in the permanent loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote and to legally possess a firearm.
Even misdemeanor convictions can have dramatic repercussions, potentially leading to job loss, limited educational prospects, and even restricted residential options. In some cases, mitigating the risk of these consequences could be equally as important as avoiding court-ordered criminal sanctions.
The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney
A criminal defense attorney can work to protect the rights of defendants from the day they are hired. This includes not just making appearances on their behalf in court, but also working to preserve their constitutional rights while in police custody.
Most people see criminal defense attorneys in action during trials, but the work on a case begins months prior. As soon as an attorney is hired to work on a case, they can begin building an effective defense strategy. In fact, many attorneys visit clients who are still in police custody to both inform that client of their rights and prevent any harmful questioning conducted by police.
The preliminary hearings in a criminal case can have an immense impact on a defendant’s pre-trial lifestyle and the progress of the case. The first hearing, known as an arraignment, typically determines important questions for a defendant’s future, including the amount of bail in their case and any pre-trial release conditions. A local criminal attorney could help protect your rights during every stage of the process.
Defending against Criminal Charges
There may be numerous defenses that a skilled attorney can employ to refute your criminal charges. The appropriate defense against your charges will depend on type of offense as well as the circumstances surrounding the alleged incident. For example, if there were errors during the prosecution’s investigation or there are concerns that law enforcement violated your rights or lacked probable cause to make the arrest, these could be brought to light and incorporated into your defense.
Furthermore, any evidence that law enforcement found while violating your rights may be suppressed in court. For example, if law enforcement did not have probable cause to search your vehicle and were not given consent by you, any evidence they find in a search could be suppressed.
The attorneys at Berry Law understand what law enforcement can legally do during an investigation, traffic stop, and questioning. If we find a violation of your rights led to your arrest, we can work to get the related evidence suppressed.
Work with an Omaha Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Anyone facing a criminal allegation needs to take their situation seriously. Whether this is a defendant’s first time in trouble with the law or they are looking to avoid being labelled as a repeat offender, the potential consequences for a criminal conviction can be harsh.
Our Omaha criminal lawyers could evaluate the strength of the prosecutor’s claim, identify a realistic goal, and develop a strategy designed to meet that goal. Once retained, our legal team could help negotiate a fair plea deal or make legal arguments to exclude evidence relevant to your case. Call Berry Law today to learn more about how we may be able to help you.