If you are facing murder charges in the State of Nebraska you likely already know what is at stake. Although Nebraska is not a death penalty state, a conviction for murder could land you in prison for life. Understandably, one of the first questions people facing a murder charge have is “Are there defenses to murder in Nebraska?” The simple answer is “yes”, there are defenses to murder. Only an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney can evaluate the unique facts and circumstances of your case and advise you what defense, if any, may be applicable in your case. As an accused, or the loved one of an accused, however, it may be comforting to know that there are a number of commonly used, and frequently successful, defenses to the crime of murder.
In the State of Nebraska, the crime of murder may be charged as murder in the first degree or murder in the second degree. Essentially, the difference is that murder in the first degree requires premeditation. Defenses to either first or second degree murder typically fall into one of three broad categories:
“I didn’t do it”
This category of defenses asserts that the accused never committed the crime. Usually, the claim is that it is a case of mistaken identity. Because the victim in a murder case is never around to testify, the best the State can hope for is that someone else witnessed the crime. Sometimes a witness identifies a suspect based on being shown a photo array or a line up. In that case, the defense will focus on how easy it is to pick the wrong person using those methods and/or how often the police subtly (or not so subtly) suggest that a witness pick a specific person from the phot array or line up.
“I did it BUT…”
When this defense is employed, the defendant admits that he/she killed the victim; however, the defendant then asserts the killing was done in self-defense or that he/she was insane at the time. Self-defense laws vary by state but most allow a person to use deadly force in order to prevent immediate serious harm or death to the individual. Some states also allow deadly force to be used to protect others and/or property. Insanity defenses also vary by state; however, the State of Nebraska uses The “M’Naghten Rule” which is based on the concept that the defendant either did not understand what he or she did, or failed to distinguish right from wrong, because of a “disease of mind.”
“You can’t prove it”
N any criminal prosecution the State must prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the defendant to be convicted. The “You can’t prove it” counts in the State being unable to meet its burden at trial. Evidence may be week, circumstantial, and/or simply missing. Law enforcement officers may have conducted an illegal search and seizure when gathering that evidence. Regardless of why, this defense is based on the simple idea that the State cannot meets its burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you have been charged with murder in Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to discuss your defense options with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
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