Misdemeanor in Nebraska
What is a Misdemeanor Crime?
Misdemeanor crime is a lower level of crime comparing to felonies. Misdemeanor crimes may involve violations of traffic law, city ordinances, and state laws, generally a low-level crime. Misdemeanor in Nebraska are divided into seven classes under the Nebraska Criminal Code, from the most severe to the least severe in the following order: Class I Misdemeanor, Class II Misdemeanor, Class III Misdemeanor, Class IIIA Misdemeanor, Class IV Misdemeanor, Class V Misdemeanor, and Class W Misdemeanor.
When a misdemeanor crime is committed, the law enforcement will decide whether to arrest or simply provide you with a citation in which indicates your court hear date. Police may have discretion in deciding whether to arrest someone after learning a crime has been committed. In misdemeanor crimes, the police may arrest you without a warrant if (1) he has reasonable cause to believe that you committed a crime in front of him, (2) you will not be found later on unless arrested (3) you may harm yourself or others or properties unless arrested, or (4) you may destroy or conceal evidence of a crime (Neb. Rev. Stat 29-404.02.(1)(b).
In some misdemeanor crimes, arrests are mandatory. For instance, violation of protection order or restraining orders.
Classes of Misdemeanor Crimes
Being convicted of a misdemeanor may have serious impacts on your liberty, future employment, and background records. Nebraska divides misdemeanor crimes into seven classes based on their punishments.
Class 1 Misdemeanor – Minimum – none; Maximum – less than 1 year jail, or $1000 fine, or both;
Class 2 Misdemeanor – Minimum – none; Maximum – 6-month jail, or $1000 fine, or both
Class 3 Misdemeanor – Minimum – none; Maximum – 3-month jail or $500 fine, or both
Class 3A Misdemeanor – Minimum – none; Maximum – 7-day jail or $500 fine, or both
Class 4 Misdemeanor – Minimum – none; Maximum – no jail, $500 fine
Class 5 Misdemeanor – Minimum – none; Maximum – no jail, $100 fine
Class W Misdemeanor is a penalty for Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Class W Misdemeanor – 1st conviction may carry from 7 days jail and $500 fine (Minimum) to 60-day jail and $500 fine (Maximum)
Class W Misdemeanor – 2nd conviction may carry from 60 days jail and $500 fine (Minimum) to 180-day jail and $500 fine (Maximum)
Class W Misdemeanor – 3rd conviction may carry from 90 days jail and $1000 fine (Minimum) to 365-day jail and $500 fine (Maximum)
Judges in misdemeanor cases may also impose probation and restraining orders.
It is important for you to remain silent and speak with an attorney if the police are asking questions or interrogating you. Once the alleged crime has been committed, it is the police’s job to investigate and ask for statements from potential persons of interests and witnesses. When the police confront you about an alleged crime, they may decide to either give you a copy of summons and complaint telling your next court hearing date or arrest you. If arrested, you should have an opportunity for a bond hearing to be released while your case is pending in court. In a bond hearing, the judge will determine whether you are likely to show up in your future court hearing and whether releasing you endangers the community based on the alleged crime.
If you received a citation for a misdemeanor crime, in certain cases, your case may not end up in the court. When the police issue you a citation, an internal review officer at the police department and at the city or country attorney’s office will review (1) whether a crime has been committed and/or (2) whether there is sufficient evidence to prosecute. If the police department or the county/city attorney’s office determines that no crime has been committed, your citation may be null and void and you may receive a letter from the county/city attorney’s office telling you that no charge will be filed against. Likewise, if county/city attorney’s office determines that if there is insufficient evidence to file the charge, the office may decline to file a charge against you.
If you were not arrested, your first court appearance will likely be an arraignment in which you will tell the judge how you intend to plea to the criminal charge. If the judge deems you without sufficient resources, he may appoint you a public defender or a private criminal defense attorney paid by the government. It is important that you understand what criminal charge you are facing and what are potential results and impacts if convicted. Some minor infractions may only result a nominal fine that is not worth the time to retain an attorney. Yet some convictions can result in being registered in a central registry for abuse, sex crimes, neglect, etc. These records may publicly available and will have impacts on employment and choosing a place to live and restrictions on where you cannot go. At your arraignment hearing, judges sometimes will read your criminal charge and tell you what the possible penalties under the Nebraska law. In a busy and crowed courtroom, sometimes the judge may ask your defense lawyer whether you want to waive such reading. In the arraignment, if your plea not guilty to the charges, you also have a right to request a trial by a jury.
Generally, misdemeanor crimes are decided by the judge randomly selected. However, if you want your case decided by a jury, you must request a jury trial within 10 days following your entry of not guilty plea. Otherwise, you have waived that right. The question of whether to choose a jury trial or a bench trial should be discussed with your lawyer.
In rare occasions, a criminal defense lawyer may file a Motion to Quash the case. This motion must be filed before your initial plea at arraignment. The Motion to Quash challenges the sufficiency of the charges. It may challenge the law as well. Because some state or city laws are not constitutional.
During the arraignment, the judge may also tell you about your rights. However, in a crowed and busy courtroom, judges sometimes will read out your constitutional rights out loud so that everyone in the room can hear it. It saves the judge’s time to repeat the reading in each and every case. In brevity, some rights may include:
You have a right to a trial and a trial by jury on any offense that may carry potential jail time.
You are innocent until proven guilty.
The government has the burden of proof to show you have committed the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
You have a right to remain silent and the government cannot use your silence against you.
You may also testify for your own defense.
You are entitled for a speedy trial under the Nebraska law within six months of the date of the filing of the complaint.
You have right to appeal.
The information above is for education and marketing purposes only. In no way it is intended to provide legal advice or create a client-attorney relationship. Should you have a question regarding the content or your situation, please contact a lawyer.