Probation in Nebraska offers a second chance for those who’ve stumbled, allowing individuals convicted of crimes to rebuild their lives within the community under careful guidance and specific conditions, rather than to serve all or most of their sentence behind bars. Below, Liberty Law Group explains important aspects of Nebraska’s probation system, including the conditions that individuals must comply with, the benefits of completing probation, and the consequences of violating the rules. Additionally, the firm covers the potential defenses available in probation violation cases and how a criminal defense attorney can help defend an individual and protect their rights.

Omaha Violation of Probation Defense Attorneys

At Liberty Law Group, our attorneys are experienced defending those who have been accused of violating the terms of their probation. Our team of skilled criminal defense attorneys work vehemently to defend our clients in Nebraska and Iowa for probation violation cases. Our firm proudly serves the communities of Omaha, Lincoln, Pappillion and surrounding areas of Nebraska including Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy, Saunders, Cass, Dodge and surrounding counties. We also represent Iowans in Council Bluffs, Pattawattamie, County and surrounding areas of West Iowa. If you or a loved one has been accused of a probation violation, contact our office at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case.

Nebraska Probation Information Center

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What is Probation?

Probation in Nebraska is a way to supervise people who have committed crimes without sending them to jail. It’s about helping them get better and keeping the community safe. People on probation live in the community (e.g., at home) but must follow certain rules and be monitored. The Nebraska Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the Courts and Probation oversee this system.

There are three main parts in Nebraska’s probation system. The Administration and Operation division helps manage cases in Nebraska’s fourteen Probation Districts. The Adult Probation Services deals with checking and supervising adults who are on probation. The Juvenile Probation Services division, which supervises individuals aged 11-18, tries to involve families in making decisions and focus more on helping juveniles improve rather than punishing them.

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Conditions of Probation

When someone in Nebraska is granted probation by a court, they have to follow certain rules listed in the Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2262. Some of these rules include:

  • Behavior and Social Rules: Stay away from illegal activities, bad places, and people who might cause crimes.
  • Where to Live and Spend Time: The court can order the person to stay in jail for short periods or return to custody at certain times. They must stay in the area and tell the court if they move or get a new job.
  • Family and Work: Take care of family duties and have a steady job or occupation.
  • Education and Treatment: Get medical or mental health treatment, go to school or job training, and sometimes live in special places for people on probation.
  • Weapons: If convicted of serious crimes, they can’t have weapons unless the court approves.
  • Check-ins and Monitoring: Regularly report to the court or a probation officer, let the officer visit their home, and maybe be watched electronically.
  • Money Matters: Pay fines, give money to victims, cover court costs, and pay for tests or treatment if they can afford it.
  • Community Work and Programs: Do volunteer work or join programs that help them get better.
  • Special Rules for Drug Crimes and DNA Tests: If the crime involved drugs, they must get treatment and counseling.

The court decides these rules based on what’s best for each person, aiming to help them improve and keep the community safe. The exact rules depend on what the crime was and the person’s situation.

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Duration and Modification of Probation

In Nebraska, how long someone is on probation depends on the crime they committed. This is explained in the Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2263. For serious crimes (felonies), or if it’s a person’s second misdemeanor, they can be on probation for up to five years. If it’s their first misdemeanor, probation can last up to two years. The court decides the length when it sentences the person. The court can also end someone’s probation early if it thinks it’s the right thing to do, if the probation officer suggests it, or if the person on probation asks for it. The court also has the power to modify the conditions of an individual’s probation.

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What Happens When Someone Completes Probation?

According to Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2264, once a person finishes probation, the court issues an order that basically says that the individual is no longer on probation. This order tells them that they can vote again two years after they finish probation. It also tells them how to get back other rights they lost because of their crime.

A person who has finished probation, paid their fines, or done community service can ask the court to set aside their conviction. When the court looks at this request, it thinks about how the person has behaved since they were sentenced, whether they’re likely to commit another crime, and other important factors. If the conviction is set aside, it will be as if the conviction never happened. This means the person doesn’t have the restrictions that came with the conviction.

But getting a conviction set aside doesn’t mean the person gets their old job back or that the conviction can’t affect them in other ways. For example, the conviction can still be used against them in future legal cases, affect the punishment for any new crimes, and matter for some job licenses.

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Key Terms Relating to Probation Violations

Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2266 identifies some important terms as it relates to breaking the rules of probation in Nebraska. This includes:

  • Absconding Supervision: This means a person on probation avoids their probation officer for at least two weeks, even though the officer tries to find them.
  • Administrative Sanction: This is a punishment given by a probation officer for breaking probation rules. It can include things like being checked on more often, having to take drug tests, going to counseling, doing community service, not being allowed to travel, or changing how they pay any money they owe.
  • Custodial Sanction: This is a tougher punishment for breaking probation rules. It can include being sent to jail for up to thirty days.
  • Noncriminal Violation: These are things a person on probation does wrong that are not serious crimes but can still be problems. For example, getting traffic tickets, not meeting with their probation officer, leaving the area without permission, not working or going to school, or not doing community service.
  • Substance Abuse Violation: This is about breaking rules related to drug or alcohol use. It includes things like testing positive for drugs or alcohol, not showing up for tests, and not following drug or mental health treatment plans.

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What Happens When Someone Sentenced for a Misdemeanor Violates Probation

Under Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2266.01, when a probation officer thinks that a person on probation for a misdemeanor has broken or is about to break the rules, the probation officer can give administrative sanctions. This decision is based on how risky the person on probation is, how serious the violation is, and how the person responds to it. The person on probation has to admit in writing that they broke the rules and agree to the punishment. If they don’t admit it, the probation officer must start formal steps to end the probation. In both cases, the probation officer has to report to the county attorney about the violation and what punishment they gave.

If the probation officer doesn’t choose to give administrative sanctions, they must write a report to the court that sentenced the person and to the county attorney. This report suggests starting formal legal steps to end the probation.

Also, if the probation officer thinks the person might run away or be a danger, they can arrest them without a warrant. The probation officer must tell the county attorney about this and write a report on the arrest and the broken conditions.

After getting the report, the county attorney has two options. They can inform the probation officer and the place holding the person that they won’t ask to end the probation (this means the person can be released), or the county attorney can ask the court to end the person’s probation.

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What Happens When Someone Sentenced for a Felony Violates Probation

Under Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2266.02, if a probation officer thinks a person on probation has broken or is about to break the rules, they look at several things. These include whether an arrest is needed, how serious and risky the violation is, how the person on probation reacts, and whether to give a punishment or ask for probation to be taken away.

If the probation officer believes the person on probation might run away or is a danger to others or property, they must arrest them without a warrant. After the arrest, the person is kept in jail or a similar place. This quick action is important to stop possible harm or escape.

The probation officer can give out administrative sanctions. However, this requires the person on probation to admit to the violation and agree to the punishment. If they don’t admit it, the officer must either choose a custodial sanction or notify the county attorney regarding the next steps.

Custodial sanctions, which involve keeping the person in custody, also require the person’s admission and the court’s approval. If the person disagrees with the violation, formal steps to take away their probation may start.

If an arrest is made in connection with a probation violation, the probation officer quickly tells the county attorney and writes a report about why the arrest and violation happened. The county attorney then decides whether to let the person go or to ask the court to take away their probation. Moreover, when a probation officer tells a county attorney about a probation violation, the attorney may ask the court to take away probation.

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The Nebraska Court’s Role In Sanctions

According to Nebraska Statute §29-2266.03, if a probation officer wants to impose custodial sanctions, and the person on probation agrees they violated probation and is okay with the punishment without a court hearing, the officer must tell the sentencing court. The officer has to write a report about what rule was broken and what punishment they think is right. Then, the court looks at the report and makes the punishment official with a commitment order.

If the person on probation doesn’t admit they did something wrong, the officer still has to report to the court about the broken rule and suggested punishment. In this case, the person on probation gets a quick review by the court. Normally, they can’t be punished with custodial sanctions unless, after a court hearing, it’s proven more likely than not that they broke the rules. Before this hearing, the person on probation gets a written notice explaining why they might be issued sanctions. At the hearing, they have rights: they can challenge the evidence against them, show their own evidence, and have a lawyer.

The county attorney can be part of the hearing. They can bring evidence and can call and question witnesses. The court will look at the report and statement from the probation officer, and any other important information. Ultimately, if the court decides to go ahead with the custodial sanctions, they issue a commitment order.

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Revocation of Probation

According to Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2267, if there’s a request or information given to take away someone’s probation, the person on probation has the right to review the charges by the court that gave the probation.

Nebraska law focuses on the need for fair treatment in the process of taking away probation. It says that probation can’t be taken away or made harder unless there’s a formal court hearing. At this hearing, the reason for taking away probation must be shown with "clear and convincing evidence." This level of proof is more than what’s needed in regular civil cases but less than in criminal cases.

The law in Nebraska also addresses the rights of the person on probation during this process. Before the hearing, they must get a copy of the information or a written notice that explains why their probation might be taken away. This lets them fully understand the charges and prepare to defend themselves. During the hearing, they can challenge the evidence against them, show their own evidence, and have a lawyer.

For people on felony probation, there’s a special requirement for taking away probation because of drug use or non-criminal actions. The law says this can only start if the person has already had ninety days of jail-type punishments during their current probation.

According to Nebraska Revised Statute §29-2268, if a person on probation, who is not under post-release supervision, does not follow their probation rules, the court has the power to end their probation and give a new sentence. This new sentence might be the same or different from the first sentence for the original crime.

For those on probation who are under post-release supervision, if they don’t follow these supervision rules, the court can end the supervision and may send them to prison. The time they could spend in prison could be as long as the original supervision period.

If someone on probation breaks the rules, but the court thinks ending their probation is not the right way to deal with it, there are other choices. The court can warn the person on probation, make them report more often and watch them more closely, add new probation rules, impose custodial sanctions, or make the probation period longer.

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Potential Defenses in Probation Violation Cases

  • Compliance with Conditions – In Nebraska, when someone is accused of not following their probation conditions, a strong defense can be to show that they really did follow all the rules. This means providing clear proof that they did everything the law and the court asked them to do. This could include showing that they met with their probation officer as required, took part in any needed treatment or programs, followed rules about where they can live and work, and any other proof that they were in compliance.
  • Misunderstanding or Lack of Knowledge of Conditions – Another defense is if the person didn’t understand what their probation rules were or wasn’t apprised of them. In this defense, the person argues they weren’t told clearly about what they had to do for their probation. To use this defense, it’s important to look at how they were told about their probation rules.
  • Unintentional Violation – This defense basically admits that the person broke the probation rules, but suggests it was an accident. This defense is particularly applicable in cases where the probationer can show that their actions, though in violation of the terms, were not the result of deliberate disregard for the probation conditions.
  • Impossibility or Undue Hardship – The defense of impossibility or undue hardship is used when someone argues it was too difficult or impossible for them to follow certain probation rules because of things beyond their control. This might include situations like not being able to afford certain payments or being physically unable to go to required programs.

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How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help Someone Accused of Violating Probation

Providing Legal Representation and Guidance

A criminal defense attorney is very important for someone in Nebraska who is accused of not following probation rules. The attorney helps the person on probation understand the complex rules of the probation system and makes sure their rights are respected. They give advice on how to deal with the legal system, explain the rules of probation, and help respond to any claims of breaking these rules. The attorney also prepares for court hearings and defends the person in court.

Challenging Allegations of a Probation Violation

If someone is accused of breaking probation rules under Nebraska law, a criminal defense attorney can question these claims. They look closely at the evidence against the person on probation, searching for mistakes or inconsistencies. The attorney might argue that the claimed rule break didn’t happen or that there isn’t enough proof. They work hard to question the reliability of the evidence or how the probation rules are interpreted to protect their client from unfair punishment.

Negotiating with Probation Officers and the Court

A defense attorney can talk to probation officers and the court for the person on probation. This includes discussing how serious the alleged violation is and looking for other solutions besides ending probation. The attorney might try to find a solution that has less impact on the person’s life, like asking for changes to the probation rules or suggesting different, fairer punishments for the situation.

Defending Against Revocation of Probation

If there’s a hearing to decide whether to end probation, the attorney is very important in defending against this. They prepare a strong defense, questioning why probation should be ended and arguing against a tougher sentence. The attorney makes sure the rights of the person on probation are protected in the hearing, including the right to challenge evidence, bring their own witnesses, and question any witnesses against them.

Assisting in Post-Probation Procedures

When someone finishes their probation successfully or if the probation is ended, a criminal defense attorney helps with what comes next. This includes advice on how to get back certain rights, what finishing probation means for their record, and how to potentially clear the conviction. The attorney guides the person on how to use the successful completion of probation for future benefits and to help clear their name.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Probation Violations in Nebraska

  • What is a Probation Violation in Nebraska? Violations occur when individuals fail to follow court-mandated conditions such as avoiding illegal activities, maintaining employment, undergoing required treatments, and regularly reporting to a probation officer.
  • What are the Consequences of a Probation Violation? Consequences range from administrative sanctions like increased monitoring to custodial sanctions such as short-term jail sentences. Severe violations can lead to probation revocation and enforcement of the original jail term.
  • How are Probation Violations Handled? Misdemeanor violations typically result in administrative sanctions, while felony violations can lead to immediate arrest and more severe penalties, including potential revocation of probation and reinstatement of the original prison sentence.
  • What are Potential Defenses Against Probation Violation Allegations? Defenses can include, but aren’t limited to, proving compliance with conditions, misunderstanding of conditions, unintentional violations, or inability to comply due to hardship.

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Additional Resources for Probation in Nebraska

Nebraska Probation information: Includes mission statement and statement of values and beliefs of Nebraska probation services. Includes links to infographic overviews of Nebraska probation facts in quarterly summaries of statistics in five categories: Specialized Substance Abuse Supervision, Problem-Solving Courts, Post-Release Supervision, and separate infographics for Juvenile and Adult Probation in the state.

Supervised Release restrictions: Reviews probation requirements of the federal district for Nebraska and Sex Offender Registry requirements for the state including information on standard conditions of supervision and travel restrictions. Provides links to reentry resources including community service organizations, health services, state agencies relevant to post-release social services and needs, and more.

Justice Reinvestment in Nebraska: Analysis and Policy Framework (2015): This article discusses prison conditions and issues in Nebraska. Also reviews legislative efforts to understand the issues and direct state funding and policy toward improving aspects of the state’s criminal justice system, including probation and parole programs. Lists among its findings the facts that successful probationers are often not transitioned off supervision appropriately, and that probation officers lack effective options beyond revocation to respond to most serious probation violations.

Life After Prison: Nebraska’s ‘Growing Pains’ With Probation Reform (2019): This article explains that as of 2015, sentences imposed for Class III, Class IIIA, and Class IV felonies must have a post-release supervision program which requires probationers to pursue services after prison. Discusses how the more intensive programs put new burdens on counties to oversee the programs and create greater risk of offenders being re-incarcerated.

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Hiring an Attorney for Probation Violations in Nebraska | Liberty Law Group

At Liberty Law Group, our attorneys are ready to help those who have been accused of violating their probation or need legal help related to the terms of their probation or supervised release. Our firm proudly serves Omaha, Lincoln, Douglas County, Lancaster County, Sarpy County and the surrounding areas of Eastern Nebraska. Our attorneys also serve the communities of Council Bluffs, Pattawattamie, Iowa and surrounding areas. If you or a loved one needs to hire a criminal defense attorney to help you through a probation violation case, call our office today at (402) 865-0501 to request a free consultation to discuss your case.

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