If you were recently arrested and charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, the most important thing you can do for you, your loved ones, and your future is to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Sometimes though, the charges against you dictate what type of criminal defense attorney you need to hire. For example, if you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) you should hire an attorney who focuses his/her practice on defending DUIs. On the other hand, you might be better off hiring a violent crime lawyer. To know if you need a violent crime attorney, however, you need to know what type of cases a violent crime lawyer handles.
What Is a “Violent Crime?”
When most people hear the term “violent crime” used, they can provide their own definition of the term as it is fairly self-explanatory. Just to clarify, however, the term “violent crime” actually has a formal definition used by the federal government as well. In the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force.
What Type of Charges Would Qualify as “Violent Crimes?”
Although the federal government has a specific definition for the term “violent crime” that specifically mentions several criminal offenses, there are other offenses that would also fall under the purview of a violent crime lawyer. When deciding if you have been charged with a violent crime, ask yourself if the offense involves the use of force or the threat of the use of force. The question is not what really happened. Instead, the focus is on what the State of Nebraska alleges occurred. For example, the offense of theft could be a violent, or a non-violent, offense. If the State alleges that you threatened to shoot or stab a cashier at the corner store while stealing a candy bar, that would qualify as a violent crime because of the threat of force. Without that threat, the crime would likely be charged as simple shoplifting. Another general rule of thumb involves the use or a weapon during the commission of the crime. If the State alleges that you had a gun, knife, or any other weapon with you during the commission of the crime, it is a violent crime.
Why Does It Matter If It Is Considered a Violent Crime?
The distinction between violent and non-violent crimes is important for two reasons. The first is that as a practical matter, violent crimes usually involve longer potential prison terms if convicted. Returning to the theft example for a moment, imagine that you walked into the corner store and stole and you reached into the cash register while the cashier was distracted and stole some cash. Now imagine that instead of stealing that cash when the cashier was distracted, imagine that you threatened to stab the cashier if he/she didn’t hand over the cash. As you might imagine, you are looking at more potential prison time for the second set of facts than for the first. The other important distinction is that violent crimes almost always involve a victim. The mere involvement of a victim complicates the case and makes defending an accused more difficult as a general rule. You need an attorney who is experienced at reading alleged victims and deciding if they will be credible. If the alleged victim plans to testify, the manner in which your criminal defense attorney handles the cross-examination could mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. As you can see, hiring the right criminal defense lawyer – one who is an experienced violent crime lawyer – is imperative.
Contact a Violent Crime Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a violent crime in the State of Nebraska, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska violent crime lawyer 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.