Nebraska law heavily focuses on the protection of children, ensuring that their safety and well-being are never overlooked. Child abuse in Nebraska involves causing or allowing harm to a minor in various ways. This offense holds grave consequences for individuals who are convicted. Understanding Nebraska’s child abuse laws is important for anyone facing such serious allegations. In this piece, Liberty Law Group explains what constitutes child abuse in Nebraska, the penalties involved, and the legal defenses that could apply.

Omaha Child Abuse Defense Lawyers

Choose Liberty Law Group for child abuse defense with confidence. Our seasoned attorneys specialize in criminal defense, excelling in cases of child abuse with a proven success record. We offer personalized and compassionate representation, acknowledging the sensitivity of these allegations. Stay assured that our team is well-versed in the latest legal developments, ensuring strategic defense tailored to your case’s specifics. Trust us for expertise, a history of success, and unwavering commitment to your defense needs.

Call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney if you or a loved one has been charged with or accused of child abuse. We are standing by and ready to help with your defense.

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What is Child Abuse in Nebraska?

Under Nebraska Revised Statute 28-707, child abuse means knowingly, intentionally, or negligently causing or allowing a minor child to be placed in harmful situations. This law covers multiple forms of endangerment to a child’s well-being, both physically and mentally. This includes:

  • Endangerment: If a child is placed in a situation that jeopardizes their life, physical health, or mental well-being, it constitutes child abuse. This can include exposing the child to dangerous environments or situations.
  • Cruel Treatment: If a child is subjected to cruel confinement or punishment, it falls under the umbrella of child abuse. This implies any form of harsh or inhumane treatment that harms the child.
  • Depriving Children of Necessities: Neglecting a child by not providing essential needs such as food, clothing, shelter, or care is recognized as child abuse.
  • Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Forcing or allowing a child to engage in or be placed in situations of sexual exploitation, including obscene acts, is considered child abuse. This also encompasses situations where a child is sexually abused.
  • Trafficking: If a child is placed in a situation where they are a victim of trafficking, whether for labor or sexual purposes, it is recognized as child abuse.

The law also says that certain privileges of confidentiality, like those between a patient and physician or between spouses, do not apply in cases of child abuse. This means these privileges cannot be used to refuse testimony in child abuse prosecutions.

What are the Penalties for Child Abuse in Nebraska?

In Nebraska, the penalties for child abuse vary significantly based on the nature and severity of the offense. Child abuse is classified as a Class I misdemeanor when committed negligently (carelessly), and it does not result in serious bodily injury or death. The penalty for a Class I misdemeanor in Nebraska includes up to 1 year in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine.

There are two scenarios where child abuse is classified as a Class IIIA felony: when the offense is committed knowingly and intentionally but does not result in serious bodily injury or death; and when the offense is committed negligently and results in serious bodily injury. With a Class IIIA felony, the penalty is up to 3 years in prison followed by 9-18 months of post-release supervision and/or up to $10,000 fine.

Child abuse is considered a Class IIA felony when it is committed negligently and results in the death of the child. The penalty for a Class IIA felony includes up to 20 years in prison. When child abuse is committed knowingly and intentionally, and it results in serious bodily injury, it is classified as a Class II felony. The punishment for a Class II felony ranges from 1 to 50 years in prison.

The most severe classification for child abuse under Nebraska law is a Class IB felony, applicable when the offense is committed knowingly and intentionally, resulting in the death of the child. The penalty for a Class IB felony involves potential life imprisonment.

In Nebraska, an individual charged with child abuse may be eligible for probation as an alternative to jail time. This depends on the specific circumstances of the case and the court’s assessment. Probation allows the individual to remain in the community under specific conditions set by the court. These conditions often include rehabilitation efforts like counseling, fulfilling family responsibilities, maintaining employment, and avoiding unlawful behavior. For more serious felony cases where a mandatory minimum jail sentence applies, probation is not an option.

Nebraska offers special pre-plea and post-plea programs that focus on rehabilitation. These programs include Veterans Diversion Program, Treatment Diversion Programs and Mental Health Diversion, which cater to non-violent offenses and emphasize addressing the underlying causes of criminal behavior, such as substance abuse or mental health issues. However, it’s important to note that eligibility for these programs is subject to specific criteria, and not all individuals charged with child abuse (especially felony child abuse) qualify. Successful completion of these programs can lead to the dismissal of charges, offering an alternative pathway apart from traditional incarceration.

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What are Some Defenses to a Charge of Child Abuse?

Given that child abuse is defined as knowingly, intentionally, or negligently causing harm or endangerment to a child, key defenses often revolve around challenging these elements.

A primary defense is asserting that the accused did not knowingly or intentionally harm the child. This involves demonstrating that the accused was not aware of the risk or danger to the child or did not intend to cause harm. For instance, if a child is injured in an accident where the accused had no knowledge of the potential for harm, this could be a basis for defense.

Also, arguing that an injury was a genuine accident, and not the result of careless or reckless behavior, can be a valid defense against a child abuse charge.

In some cases, defending against a child abuse charge may involve disproving false or exaggerated claims. This can occur in contentious domestic situations (e.g., one parent may make unfounded accusations against the other). Providing evidence that contradicts the allegations, such as witness testimony or alibis, can be crucial.

Parents also have the right to discipline their children. However, this defense is complex, as the discipline must not cross the line into abuse. Demonstrating that the actions taken were reasonable and intended for disciplinary purposes, not to cause harm, can be a defense. This typically requires showing that the discipline was not excessive or cruel.

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What Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do for Someone Facing Charges of Child Abuse?

A criminal defense lawyer in Nebraska provides legal representation to an individual charged with child abuse or other domestic violence crimes in the state. They start by thoroughly understanding the case, reviewing all the evidence, and identifying any inconsistencies or weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments. The lawyer offers guidance on legal procedures and ensures that the client’s rights are protected throughout the legal process.

One of the key roles of a defense lawyer is developing a strong defense strategy. This might involve challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution, including questioning the credibility of witnesses and the legality of how evidence was obtained. They may also present alternative explanations for the accusations.

Moreover, the lawyer negotiates with prosecutors, possibly reducing charges or penalties. In cases where trial is unavoidable, they represent the client in court, presenting arguments, and cross-examining witnesses to establish reasonable doubt.

For clients eligible for diversion or post-plea programs, the lawyer helps in navigating the eligibility criteria and application process. The lawyer also assists in clarifying the conditions of probation if it is granted as an alternative to incarceration.

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Additional Resources

Child Abuse Laws In Nebraska – The official website of the Nebraska Legislature offers a comprehensive overview of the state’s child abuse laws, including the associated penalties. This resource is essential for understanding the legal definition of child abuse in Nebraska and the potential consequences for those found guilty of such offenses.

Reporting Child Abuse In Nebraska – The Office of Inspector General of Nebraska Child Welfare provides detailed guidance on how to report child neglect or abuse. Their website includes information about who is eligible to file a complaint and what an individual can expect during the investigation process.

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Child Abuse Defense Lawyers Omaha | Liberty Law Group

Liberty Law Group believes in personalized and compassionate representation, as we understand the sensitivity and difficulty of addressing child abuse allegations. Committed to staying current with child abuse laws, we craft tailored defense strategies for every client. Trust us for expert legal counsel, combining expertise, successful outcomes, compassion, and a commitment to staying abreast of legal developments in child abuse cases.

Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha in Douglas County, Lincoln in Lancaster County, Papillion in Sarpy County, Nebraska and Council Bluffs in Pattawattamie County, Iowa and surrounding areas. Call our firm immediately at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case with an attorney. We are standing by and ready to help with your defense.