Nebraska Criminal Law: An Overview
Are you facing criminal charges in the state of Nebraska? Do you know the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, or how state-specific laws may affect your criminal case? What about what to consider when choosing a criminal defense law firm to guide you through the justice system?
What is the Difference Between Felonies and Misdemeanors?
The state of Nebraska has two main criminal law classifications. The different classifications are based on the severity of each crime.
Felonies are the most serious crimes, punishable by prison sentences of at least one year. Murder in the 1st degree is the only crime in the Class I category and is potentially punishable by death. Sexual assault falls into the Class IB felony subcategory and is punishable by 20 years to life in prison. Drug crimes, like possession of 140 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, is a Class ID offense, punishable by a prison sentence with a mandatory minimum of three years and a maximum of 50 years.
Misdemeanors are the least serious level of criminal charges. Penalties generally include fines, jail time of no more than one year, or both. Keep in mind is that records of misdemeanors are searchable by the public, which future employers may take advantage of and therefore may affect employment opportunities.
Nebraska has seven misdemeanor classes, the most serious of which are Class I and Class W misdemeanors. Identity theft and violent crimes such as assault in the third-degree are examples of Class I misdemeanor crimes. Misdemeanor Class V covers criminal offenses like smoking or vaping under the age of 18. This misdemeanor class carries a $100 fine penalty.
Nebraska DUI Laws Explained
Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08% or higher in the state of Nebraska is grounds for a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI). These DUI/DWI terms are interchangeable under Nebraska law.
Nebraska is an implied consent state. In other words, the act of driving in and of itself means a licensed driver consents to police-requested roadside testing.
A first-time offender convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) may face many penalties including:
- Jail time of at least 10 days, a revoked license for six months
- A fine of $500
- Paying for an Alcohol Assessment Evaluation
- Possibly attending an Alcohol Treatment Program costing up to $3,000
A repeat DUI offender faces:
- A mandatory minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 90 days in jail
- License revocation for 18 months
- A fine of up to $1,000
A third-time offender may face:
- A mandatory minimum of 90 days and a maximum of 180 days in jail
- Losing their license for 15 years
- A fine of up to $1,000.
The same penalties apply if you refuse BAC testing and are found not guilty. Penalties increase in severity if the driver has a BAC level of .15% or higher.
Nebraska Marijuana Laws
Possession of small amounts of marijuana – up to one ounce – for personal use is not a crime. Possession of more than one ounce will result in a citation of $300. The sale of any amount of marijuana, no matter how small, is a felony carrying a mandatory minimum prison term of one year.
You may want to know that medical marijuana is not legal in Nebraska.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Before You Talk to a Police Officer
You have the right to remain silent. You should exercise that right by remaining silent and instead seeking the advice of aw criminal defense attorney. What should you consider before deciding on a specific criminal defense lawyer or team of criminal law firm? Every criminal case is unique, but the following suggestions may help you in your search for the right law firm for you:
- Does the law office offer a free consultation to discuss the specific circumstances of your case and offer initial legal advice?
- Do the law firm’s practice areas meet your needs?
- How many years of experience do the criminal defense attorneys have?
- Do they have a proven record as trial lawyers?
- Do you feel confident in their legal representation and legal services of their law firm?
- Do they have experience defending the legal issues and criminal charges you are facing? For example, do they represent clients charged with federal crimes or state charges?
The More You Know
Your lawyer’s job is to defend you, protect your rights, and guide you throughout your case. Taking the time to educate yourself about Nebraska’s criminal justice system may better prepare you for the road ahead.