If you’re facing criminal charges, you already have a lot of worries on your mind. Not knowing what to expect from the criminal process should not be one of your concerns. While procedures for criminal cases follow a similar pattern nationwide, there are some state-specific rules. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect form the criminal process in Nebraska.
A police officer can’t just arrest you because he or she thinks you may have committed a crime. He or she must either have a warrant, have witnessed you in the act, or have probable cause. The arresting officer must inform you of the charges and your rights, including the right to remain silent. It's generally best to not make any statements or answer any questions until you have a lawyer present.
Your First Court Appearance
In Nebraska, your first court appearance will be before a magistrate and should occur within 48 hours of your arrest. This is when you are formally charged. Bail may be set, which would allow you to secure your release from jail by putting down a certain amount of money. The amount depends on the severity of the alleged crime and whether the court deems you reliable to not skip out on mandatory court appearances.
Entering Your Plea
Your arraignment is the step in the process when you enter your plea. You can plead either guilty or not guilty. Your attorney can explain to you the ramifications of either plea.
Should You Plea Bargain?
Plea bargaining is extremely common these days. In fact, it is how the vast majority of criminal cases in the United States are resolved. The prosecution and defense negotiate a plea deal in which you arrange to a reduced sentence in exchange to pleading a certain way, such as guilty to a lesser charge.
Will Your Case Go to Trial?
A preliminary hearing may be held to determine if there is enough admissible evidence for your case to go to trial. If the prosecution fails to prove so, the case may be dismissed. This hearing also gives both sides a chance to make pre-trial motions.
Trial and Sentencing
The U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to a speedy trial. Getting to this point, however, can often drag on, especially for high-profile cases. Each side presents its case and a judge or jury renders a verdict. If you are found guilty, the next step is sentencing, and your criminal lawyer plays an important role here, too, in trying to persuade the court to be lenient.
A Nebraska Criminal Lawyer Can Help
Whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony, navigating the criminal justice system can be intimidating. Nebraska criminal lawyers are well versed in the nuances of how the process works in that state. The sooner you retain one, the better.