Are you currently a defendant in a criminal prosecution in the State of Nebraska? If so, is this the first time you found yourself in this position? Being accused of a crime is stressful for anyone; however, if you are also new to the criminal justice system you are undoubtedly feeling confused and frightened as well. Because of the unique set of facts and circumstances involved in every criminal prosecution, specific questions regarding your case should be directed to an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney. There are a number of general criminal law and procedure questions though that apply to just about all prosecutions. To help you feel a little less intimidated and confused by your situation, an Omaha criminal attorney has offered to answer five of the most frequently asked criminal law questions.
1. Can the police search my house without my consent? In the United States, we have certain rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. One of those rights is the right against unreasonable searches and seizures found in the 4th Amendment. The 4th Amendment essentially requires the police to obtain a warrant, based on probable cause, before a search and seizure can take place. Unless one of the few narrow exceptions to the warrant requirement applies, the police must have a valid warrant to search your home or the search and seizure is illegal. The most commonly used exceptions to the warrant requirement is consent. Never consent to a search of your home without first consulting with a criminal defense attorney.
2. Do I have to answer questions if the police want to talk to me? You also have a constitutional right to remain silent and to not incriminate yourself. Beyond providing questions that allow the police to identify you, you are not required to answer any questions. Moreover, if you are in custody, the police are required to advise you of your Miranda rights before questioning you. Those rights remind you of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. You must ask for an attorney, however, if you wish one to be present during questioning. Finally, even if you started to answer questions, you may stop at any time and ask for an attorney before proceeding further.
3. Can I get my bond lowered? Except in the most extreme cases, such as first-degree murder or treason, you have a right to a reasonable bond. If the initial bond set in your case is too high, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to request a bond review hearing to try and get it reduced. When deciding your bond, a judge will consider the potential risk to the community if you are released, your ties to the community and your risk of flight, and the severity of the charges against you.
4. If I’m charged with domestic assault, can my spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend drop the charges? This is a common misperception. The victim in a domestic assault case does not “press charges,” the State of Nebraska does. Consequently, it is not up to your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend to decide whether to proceed with the case. Only the State of Nebraska, through the prosecuting attorney, can decide to drop the charges against you.
5. I didn’t have the drugs/gun/other contraband on me so I can’t be convicted of possession, right? Wrong. You were charged using the theory of “constructive possession.” Actual possession requires you to have physical control over the contraband, In contrast, constructive possession refers to a situation wherein you did not have actual physical possession of the contraband but the police believe the contraband located was yours anyway. A common example involves a passenger in a vehicle where drugs are located under a seat and everyone in the vehicle is charged with possession of a controlled substance. To convict you using a constructive possession argument the prosecutor will have to show that you had “the intent to maintain dominion and control over the contraband.”
Contact an Omaha Criminal Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney right away to discuss possible defenses. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case.