Domestic violence crimes in Nebraska are treated with utmost seriousness, as the state diligently investigates and prosecutes these offenses to uphold public safety and justice. These crimes are diverse in nature and are usually classified either as misdemeanors or felonies, with the latter category encompassing more severe crimes and consequently resulting in significantly greater legal consequences. Knowing domestic violence crimes in Nebraska, including the specific types of offenses, their corresponding penalties, potential alternatives to incarceration, viable defenses against such charges, and the importance of hiring a lawyer, is crucial for anyone facing such allegations.

Omaha Domestic Violence Lawyers

In cases involving family violence allegations, the road ahead for the defendant will appear bleak, but it is crucial to recognize that being charged does not equate to a conviction. There often exists significant scope for defense attorneys to vehemently defend accused individuals. Their role can be meaningful in not only trying hard to prevent a conviction but also, in scenarios where acquittal is challenging, in mitigating the severity of the potential repercussions.

At Liberty Law Group, our team of experienced criminal defense attorneys have successfully handled domestic violence cases throughout Nebraska and Iowa. If you or a loved one has been charged with a domestic violence offense, arrested, or has an active domestic violence warrant, our attorneys can represent you in all matters, including defending the criminal case and in protection order hearings. Call us today at (402) 865-0501 to request a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss the facts of your case. We are ready to start defending you immediately.

Our firm proudly represents clients throughout Omaha, Lincoln and the neighboring communities of Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Cass, Saunders and surroundiong Counties of Nebraska. Our attorneys are also licensed in Iowa and proudly represent clients in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County and the surrounding communities of West Iowa.

Below, Liberty Law Group explains what individuals need to know about domestic violence charges in Nebraska, highlighting why individuals accused of domestic violence crimes should consider the knowledge and experience of a skilled domestic violence defense attorney to safeguard their rights.

Nebraska Domestic Violence Information Center

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Specific Types of Domestic Violence Crimes in Nebraska

  • Child Abuse – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-707, child abuse occurs when a person negligently, intentionally, or knowingly causes or enables a minor child to be in danger, or suffer cruel confinement or punishment, or be deprived of basic necessities. Child abuse also constitutes when a minor is sexually exploited, sexually abused, or a victim of trafficking. The specific classification of child abuse under this law varies based on the severity and nature of the offense: it is classified as a Class I misdemeanor if committed negligently without resulting in serious bodily injury or death; a Class IIIA felony for intentional acts or negligent acts causing serious bodily injury; a Class IIA felony for negligent actions resulting in death; a Class II felony for intentional actions causing serious bodily injury; and a Class IB felony for intentional actions resulting in the death of the child.

  • Assault by Strangulation – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-310.01, assault by strangulation is committed when someone knowingly and intentionally impedes another person’s normal breathing or circulation by applying pressure on their throat or neck, or by covering the mouth and nose, regardless of visible injury. This law classifies the offense as a Class IIIA felony but escalates it to a Class IIA felony if a dangerous instrument is used, serious bodily injury is caused, or the offender has a prior conviction of the same offense. The law also includes an affirmative defense for acts resulting from legitimate medical procedures.
  • Assault of a Pregnant Woman – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-115, assault of a pregnant woman is defined as the commission of certain criminal offenses against a pregnant woman, resulting in an enhanced penalty classification. Specifically, this law includes offenses such as first, second, and third-degree assault, sexual assault, domestic assault, and assault on an officer, among others, when committed against a pregnant woman. The law says that for these offenses, the individual face a higher penalty classification than the one imposed for the offense if the victim is pregnant. This enhancement applies except in cases where the offense is already classified as a Class I, IA, or IB felony. In instances where the offense is a Class I misdemeanor, the penalty is enhanced to a Class IIIA felony.
  • Domestic Assault – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-323, domestic assault occurs when an individual intentionally and knowingly causes bodily injury, threatens imminent bodily injury, or menaces an intimate partner. This law classifies domestic assault into three degrees: the first degree involves causing serious bodily injury to an intimate partner, the second degree includes causing bodily injury with a dangerous instrument, and the third degree entails either causing bodily injury, threatening imminent bodily injury, or menacing an intimate partner. The law stipulates varying penalties for these degrees, ranging from a Class I misdemeanor for certain third-degree violations to a Class II felony for repeated first-degree violations. Additionally, the law defines an intimate partner as a spouse, former spouse, co-parent, or individual in a current or former dating relationship, but excludes casual or business relationships.
  • Violation of a Harassment Protection Order – As outlined in Nebraska Revised Statute §28-311.09, Violation of a harassment protection order in Nebraska occurs when any individual knowingly contravenes the terms of a court-issued harassment protection order. This order prohibits the respondent from activities such as restraining, harassing, threatening, or communicating with the petitioner, after the order has been served or the individual has been notified. A violation of this order is classified as a Class II misdemeanor, as specified in the law.
  • Violation of a Domestic Abuse Protection Order – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §42-924, a violation of a protection order relating to domestic violence occurs when an individual knowingly disobeys the requirements of a court-issued protection order related to domestic abuse, after being properly served or notified. This includes actions that defy specific restrictions laid out in the protection order, such as contacting the petitioner, imposing restraints on their liberty, or approaching specified locations. Anyone who knowingly violates a protection order is guilty of a Class I misdemeanor. However, if the individual has a prior conviction for violating a protection order, the offense is elevated to a Class IV felony.
  • Refusing to Yield a Party Line (Obstruction of an Emergency Call) – According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-1309, refusing to yield a party line occurs when a person willfully refuses to relinquish a telephone party line after being requested to do so for a 911 call or other emergency call, where property or human life is at risk and urgent aid is needed, unless the line is already in use for another emergency. This also includes willfully interfering with such an emergency message or falsely claiming the need for the line for an emergency, knowing this claim to be false. This offense is a Class III misdemeanor.
  • Obstructing a Peace Officer – As defined by Nebraska Revised Statute §28-906, Obstructing a peace officer is the act of intentionally hindering the enforcement of penal law or the preservation of peace by using or threatening to use violence, force, physical interference, or obstacle against a peace officer or judge, or obstructing a police animal assisting a peace officer. This law categorizes the offense of obstructing a peace officer as a Class I misdemeanor.
  • Abandonment of Spouse or Child – Abandonment of a spouse, child, or dependent stepchild, as defined by Nebraska Revised Statute §28-705, constitutes the act of a person who neglects and abandons or refuses to provide or maintain for their spouse, child, or dependent stepchild, irrespective of whether the child is born in or out of wedlock. This specific law classifies the offense of abandonment of a spouse, child, or dependent stepchild as a Class I misdemeanor. The law further specifies that a child in this context refers to an individual under the age of sixteen years. It also states that the failure to provide for a spouse or child for three consecutive months or more could be evidence of intent to commit this offense.

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Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in Nebraska

Misdemeanor Fines and Jail Terms

According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-106, the following penalties for misdemeanor offenses apply:

  • Class V Misdemeanor – up to a $100 fine.
  • Class IV Misdemeanor – up to a $500 fine.
  • Class IIIA Misdemeanor – up to 7 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.
  • Class III Misdemeanor – up to 90 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.
  • Class II Misdemeanor – up to 6 months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.
  • Class I Misdemeanor – up to 1 year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.

Misdemeanor charges are normally brought in county courts in Nebraska. For example, in Omaha, individuals face misdemeanor charges in Douglas County Court. In Lincoln, individuals face misdemeanor charges in Lancaster County Court.

Felony Penalties and Jail Terms

According to Nebraska Revised Statute §28-105, the following penalties for felony offenses apply:

  • Class IV Felony – 0-2 years in prison followed by 9-12 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Class IIIA Felony – 0-3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Class III Felony – 0-4 years in prison followed by 9-24 months of post-release supervision and/or up to a $25,000 fine.
  • Class IIA Felony – 0-20 years in prison
  • Class II Felony – 1-50 years in prison
  • Class ID Felony – 3-50 years in prison
  • Class IC Felony – 5-50 years in prison
  • Class IB Felony – 20 years to life in prison
  • Class IA Felony – life in prison
  • Class I Felony – death sentence

Felonies are normally brought in district courts in Nebraska.

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Collateral Consequences of a Domestic Violence Crime Conviction

In Nebraska, the collateral consequences of a domestic violence conviction significantly impact an individual’s life beyond the immediate legal penalties. Employment opportunities are often limited due to employers’ reluctance to hire those with a violent criminal record. This can lead to longer-term unemployment or underemployment. Housing options may also be constrained, as many landlords perform background checks, making it difficult to secure rentals. In matters of child custody, a domestic violence record can negatively influence court decisions, as they consider the individual’s criminal history when assessing the child’s best interests. Additionally, the conviction leads to the loss of certain civil rights, notably the right to possess firearms, as federal law prohibits individuals with domestic violence convictions from owning or possessing firearms. This has a particular impact on those in professions requiring firearm use. Finally, the social stigma attached to such a conviction or even just an allegation can result in strained personal relationships and social isolation.

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Sentencing Alternatives Available In Nebraska

In Nebraska, probation is a legal alternative to imprisonment, allowing individuals charged with domestic violence offenses to remain in the community under specific conditions instead of serving time in jail. This option, according to Nebraska law, is typically considered for those who are expected to live a law-abiding life outside prison and is not available to habitual criminals or those convicted of certain felonies with mandatory minimum sentences. The probation period may last up to five years for felonies or second-offense misdemeanors and two years for first-offense misdemeanors.

Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2262 outlines the main conditions of probation, which are designed for rehabilitation and ensuring public safety. These conditions are customized to each case and often include avoiding unlawful behavior, fulfilling family responsibilities, maintaining employment or education, and sometimes, periodic confinement. Additional requirements might include attending rehabilitation or counseling, avoiding specific places or people, reporting changes in address or employment, and possible electronic monitoring. Financial obligations can encompass fines, test costs, and victim restitution. Community service and participation in correctional programs are also common conditions.

Under Nebraska Revised Statutes §29-2263 and §29-2264, if all probation conditions are met, the individual is released from court-imposed obligations and can petition to have their conviction set aside, which basically eliminates certain effects of the conviction but does not erase it entirely or restore certain rights.

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Problem Solving Courts (Post-Plea Programs) in Nebraska

In Nebraska, one or more programs are available for individuals charged with domestic violence offenses. According to Nebraska Revised Statutes §24-1301 – §24-1302, Problem Solving Courts address issues like substance abuse, mental health, reintegration post-incarceration, and domestic violence. They focus on early intervention, customized treatment, and regular court oversight for those who have pleaded or been found guilty.

Veterans Treatment Court (Douglas County, Lancaster County) – This program supports veterans charged with felony offenses, focusing on substance use and mental health issues. The comprehensive rehabilitation program includes various supportive services, and successful graduates may have their charges dismissed or reduced.

Adult Drug Court (Douglas County, Lancaster County) – This court caters to non-violent felony offenders with substance abuse issues, offering a structured program of treatment, case management, and support for educational and employment goals. Successful participants can have their charges dismissed.

Douglas County Young Adult Court (YAC) – For offenders aged 18-24 charged with non-violent felonies, this court emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment. The program includes phases like stabilization and community transition, with dismissal of charges upon successful completion.

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Lancaster County Pretrial Diversion Programs (Pre-Plea Programs)

These programs are for individuals charged with misdemeanors and felonies, providing services to address criminal conduct causes. Successful completion usually leads to case dismissal and avoidance of a criminal record.

Treatment Diversion Program (Lancaster County) – This program focuses on mental health and substance use challenges for non-violent offenders, offering tailored treatment.

Veterans Diversion Program (Lancaster County) – Tailored for veterans or U.S. Armed Forces members, this program requires a link between military trauma and criminal conduct, focusing on trauma spectrum disorders like PTSD or TBI.

Intensive Supervision Diversion (Lancaster County) – A flexible approach for felony offenders related to substance use, focusing on reintegration and preventing future offenses.

Mental Health Diversion (Lancaster County) – For individuals with misdemeanor charges or non-violent felonies, this program aims at reducing recidivism through case management and community support.

General Diversion Program – Offers an alternative to traditional prosecution for misdemeanors and limited felony offenses, with eligibility based on prior legal interventions.

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How Domestic Violence Crimes Are Investigated

In Nebraska, domestic violence crimes are investigated through a meticulous and multi-faceted approach. Law enforcement officers, upon receiving a report of domestic violence, are required to respond promptly to ensure the safety of all parties involved. The initial response typically involves interviewing the victim, the accused, and any witnesses to gather firsthand accounts of the incident. In addition, officers are trained to identify and document physical evidence such as injuries and damages to property, which can be crucial in the subsequent legal process. Photographs, medical reports, and other physical items are collected throughout the investigation. Nebraska law typically requires that officers arrest the primary aggressor if there is probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred.

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How Domestic Violence Crimes In Nebraska Are Prosecuted

In Nebraska, misdemeanors related to domestic violence follow a specific criminal process in county courts. This process commences with an investigation by law enforcement following an alleged domestic violence incident. The outcome of this investigation can lead to either an arrest or issuance of a summons and complaint; in less severe cases, a citation may be issued instead. Upon arrest and booking, the individual attends a bond hearing, followed by an arraignment in the county court. If a summons and complaint are issued without arrest, the individual directly attends an arraignment. At this stage, the accused has the option to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If a plea of guilty or no contest is entered, sentencing occurs, potentially involving fines, jail time, or probation. Conversely, if a not guilty plea is entered, the case progresses to a bench trial or jury trial. A guilty verdict at trial leads to sentencing, while a not guilty verdict results in acquittal.

For felonies related to domestic violence in Nebraska, the initial procedures take place in county courts and eventually move to district courts. The process begins similarly with a law enforcement investigation of the alleged felony. This can result in either an arrest or the filing of a felony complaint in county court. Following the arrest or complaint filing, the individual undergoes a bond hearing and rights advisement, succeeded by a preliminary hearing. Post-preliminary hearing, the case can either be dismissed or bound over to the district court. In the district court phase, an “Information” document is filed, and the accused is arraigned. During the arraignment, the accused can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A guilty or no contest plea leads to a presentence investigation, followed by sentencing, which may include fines, imprisonment, or probation. If pleading not guilty, the accused faces a bench trial or jury trial. The trial’s outcome will either be a sentence upon a guilty verdict or an acquittal if found not guilty.

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Some Potential Defenses That Could Apply In Domestic Violence Cases

  • Self-Defense – In Nebraska, self-defense is a critical defense in cases of domestic violence, including charges like assault by strangulation or domestic assault. This defense is predicated on the principle that an individual is entitled to protect themselves from imminent physical harm. The key to a successful self-defense claim is establishing that the accused had a reasonable belief that they were in immediate danger of being harmed and that the force used was necessary to prevent this harm. For instance, in an assault by strangulation charge, the accused might argue that they applied force on the victim’s neck or throat in a bid to protect themselves from being stabbed by the victim. The reasonableness of the accused person’s perception of the threat and the proportionality of their response are the biggest factors in evaluating this defense.
  • Lack of Intent – The defense of lack of intent is important in domestic violence cases, such as child abuse or domestic assault, where intent is a required element of the crime. This defense argues that the accused did not have the mental state required to commit the crime. For instance, in a case of child abuse, the defense might contend that any harm inflicted on the child was entirely unintentional and resulted from an accident or a misunderstanding. This could involve arguing that the actions of the accused person were misinterpreted and that there was no deliberate intention to cause harm.
  • Consent – Consent is a defense that can be applicable in certain domestic violence cases in Nebraska, particularly in situations involving adults and where the nature of the act might imply a degree of mutual agreement – in turn casting doubt on the allegations. This defense suggests that the alleged victim had willingly agreed to the conduct, which negates an element of the crime. For example, in cases of assault, the defense might argue that the physical interaction was consensual or part of a mutually accepted behavior within the relationship. It is important to note that this defense is heavily dependent on the context of the relationship and the specific circumstances of the case. Consent can be a complex defense, especially in domestic violence cases, because it involves challenging the perception of the victim.
  • Lack of Evidence – The "lack of evidence" defense plays a major role in domestic violence cases in Nebraska, including charges like domestic assault, child abuse, and violation of protection orders. This defense centers on the prosecution’s inability to meet the burden of proof required for a conviction. In criminal law, the prosecution must establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence presented is insufficient, unreliable, or too ambiguous to meet this standard, the defense can argue for a lack of evidence.

    For example, in a domestic assault case, the defense might highlight the absence of physical evidence linking the accused to the alleged crime or point out inconsistencies in witness testimonies. In child abuse cases, the defense could challenge the credibility of the evidence suggesting intentional harm, such as medical reports or expert testimonies. In cases involving the violation of harassment or domestic abuse protection orders, the defense might emphasize the lack of concrete proof that the accused knowingly violated the order’s terms.

    Key parts of this defense include scrutinizing the evidence’s quality, challenging its reliability, and highlighting any gaps or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s narrative. It’s important to note that the lack of evidence defense does not assert the accused person’s innocence but instead questions whether the prosecution has adequately proved its case.

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How a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help Someone Facing Charges

Understanding Nebraska Criminal Law

A criminal defense attorney focused in domestic violence cases provides guidance to individuals who are caught up in Nebraska’s legal system. They offer their knowledge of the specific laws related to domestic violence offenses. An attorney’s expertise is vital in understanding the classification of offenses, the nuances of the law, and the potential penalties, ensuring that the accused person comprehends the legal issues they are facing.

Developing a Defense Strategy

Defense attorneys focus heavily on formulating a defense strategy tailored to the unique circumstances of each case. They examine the facts, evaluate evidence, and consider potential defenses such as self-defense, lack of intent, consent, or lack of evidence. For example, in self-defense scenarios, the attorney would argue that the client acted to protect themselves from imminent harm. In cases where intent is questioned, like child abuse, the defense might argue that any harm was unintentional. A thorough defense strategy can significantly influence the outcome of the case.

Representing in Court Proceedings and/or Trial

Defense attorneys represent their clients in various court proceedings, from arraignments to trials. They ensure that the accused person’s rights are protected throughout the legal process, particularly in complex felony cases that proceed through county and district courts. The attorney negotiates on behalf of their client, engages in plea bargaining if appropriate, and presents a strong defense during trials. Effective courtroom representation is critical in achieving favorable outcomes, whether it’s an acquittal, reduced charges, or lighter sentences.

Plea Agreement Negotiation

A criminal defense attorney in Nebraska plays a crucial role in negotiating plea agreements for clients facing domestic violence charges. This process involves the attorney working with the prosecutor to reach a deal where the accused may plead guilty to a lesser charge or fewer charges in exchange for a more lenient sentence or other benefits. This strategy is particularly important in cases with strong evidence against the accused, where a plea deal may offer a more favorable outcome than the risk of a harsher sentence if convicted at trial. The attorney ensures that the client fully understands the implications of the plea agreement, balancing the need for a manageable outcome with the client’s long-term interests. Effective plea negotiations can provide a more predictable and often more favorable resolution to a domestic violence case.

Negotiating Sentencing Alternatives

In Nebraska, alternatives to incarceration, such as probation or participation in problem-solving courts, can be negotiated for eligible individuals facing domestic violence charges. A defense attorney can advocate for these alternatives, highlighting factors that favor their client’s eligibility. They work to secure options like treatment diversion programs or intensive supervision diversion, which focus on rehabilitation and addressing the root causes of the criminal behavior. Eligibility is very specific for these programs, and an attorney can confirm whether someone facing domestic violence charges potentially qualifies to be admitted.

Avoiding or Minimizing Collateral Consequences

A domestic violence conviction carries significant collateral consequences, affecting aspects like employment, housing, and child custody. Defense attorneys assist in minimizing these consequences by seeking expungement or setting aside convictions where possible, alleviating some long-term impacts. They provide help on navigating life post-conviction, helping clients understand their rights and restrictions, such as firearm possession limitations under federal law.

Ensuring Fair Investigation and Prosecution

Defense attorneys ensure that the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence charges are conducted fairly and justly. They scrutinize the investigation methods, challenge any procedural errors, and ensure that the accused’s rights are not violated. By holding law enforcement and prosecutors accountable, defense attorneys play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the justice system and protecting their client’s legal rights.

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Additional Resources for Domestic Violence in Nebraska

Domestic Violence Laws In Nebraska – The official website of the Nebraska Legislature detailing all domestic violence laws and statutes. Visit the Legislature’s website to learn more about Nebraska’s specific laws against domestic violence, domestic assault, and other related offenses.

Douglas County Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit – The Douglas County Domestic Violence Prosecution Unit in Omaha Nebraska is dedicated to aggressively prosecuting domestic violence crimes through a team of specialized prosecutors and support staff. Recognizing the importance of collaboration, the unit works closely with law enforcement and various community agencies to provide comprehensive services to victims, families, and perpetrators. The unit aims to stop violence, protect victims and family members, offer restitution, and hold offenders accountable. Douglas County maintains that robust prosecution is essential for protecting current and future victims of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Unit
1717 Harney St Suite 700
Omaha, NE 68183
Phone: (402) 444-3808

Nebraska Coalition To End Domestic Violence – Statewide organization committed to improving justice and safety through informing people about domestic and sexual violence. The organization’s website contains more about the systems that promote human trafficking, stalking, harassment, and other forms of domestic and sexual violence.

Nebraska Attorney General Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Program – Nebraska Government ran program providing referrals, assistance, information, and advocacy to individuals that have experienced harm due to violent crime, including domestic violence. Victim services through this program are available across the state.

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Hiring a Defense Attorney for Domestic Violence Charges | Liberty Law Group

If you or a loved one has been accused or arrested for a domestic violence offense in Nebraska, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experienced defense attorneys at Liberty Law Group. Our team is dedicated to defending our clients with the goal of achieving the most favorable outcome possible given the unique facts and circumstances of each case we handle. We proudly serve the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Council Bluffs, and surrounding areas of Douglas, Lancaster, Saunders, Sarpy, Cass, Washington, Dodge and neighboring counties in Nebraska as well as Pottawattamie County in Iowa. Call our firm at (402) 865-0501 to request a free and confidential consultation to discuss your defense.

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