In the State of Nebraska the criminal offense of assault can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony is important if you are facing charges for assault as it could mean the difference between facing a maximum sentence of one year in jail or a minimum sentence of one year in prison. Assault is one of many criminal offenses that includes a victim. As a defendant your goal is to get your charges dismissed entirely — or reduced in the alternative. This frequently leads to the question “ Can I get a felony assault dropped to a misdemeanor if the victim requests the reduction in charges? ” Only an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney can provide you with specific advice and guidance related to your case; however, a better understanding of how charging decisions are made may also be beneficial.
When you are arrested you will be booked into jail on preliminary charges. The arresting officer must then submit a written report to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office. After reviewing the report and conducting any additional investigation necessary, the Prosecuting Attorney’s office will formally charge you. The formal charges filed against you may be more serious or less serious than the preliminary charges. The important thing to understand, however, is that only the Prosecuting Attorney’s office can file, modify, or dismiss any criminal charges against you.
This means that the victim in your case does not have the legal authority to “drop” the charges against you nor to reduce the charges. It does not mean, however, that the victim’s position and input is not important. Ultimately, in a prosecution for assault the victim’s testimony is usually crucial to securing a conviction, making it necessary to know where the victim stands before agreeing to pursue the charges. If the victim does want the charges dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor there is a good chance that the Prosecuting Attorney’s office will comply with that request. It is possible, however, in some cases to secure a conviction without the cooperation of the victim. In those cases the Prosecuting Attorney may be less likely to reduce the charges against a defendant.
Because of the individual nature of a criminal prosecution it is always best to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney if you have specific questions about your case. Do not attempt to discuss the case with the victim if a no contact order was issued by the judge during your first court appearance. Not only could you be charged with an additional crime for violating the no contact order but you could also be accused of trying to influence a witness, a serious charge in and of itself.
If you have been charged with the criminal offense of assault in Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.