If you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense it is in your best interest to make sure you understand the charges against you and the potential penalties if you are convicted of those charges. Unless you are familiar with the criminal justice system, however, deciphering your charges can be intimidating and confusing. Just knowing you have been charged with a felony, for example, isn’t enough because there are different levels of felonies in Nebraska. Although only an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney can sit down with you and explain, in detail, the charges against you, the strength of the state’s case against you, and your likely sentence should you be convicted of those charges, it also helps to have a basic understanding of how Nebraska classifies criminal offenses.
In the State of Nebraska criminal offenses are first broadly divided into two categories – misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious offenses that carry a potential punishment of less than a year in jail if convicted. Felonies are more serious offenses that carry a potential term of imprisonment of more than a year. Felonies are then further sub-divided into classes and corresponding penalties as follows:
- Class I – death
- Class IA felony – life imprisonment
- Class IB felony — maximum of life imprisonment with a minimum of 20 years imprisonment
- Class IC felony – maximum of 50 years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of five years imprisonment
- Class ID felony — maximum of 50 years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum of three years imprisonment
- Class II felony – maximum of 50 years imprisonment with a minimum of one year imprisonment
- Class III felony – maximum of 20 years imprisonment and/or a $25,000 fine with a minimum of one year imprisonment
- Class IIIA felony – maximum of five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine with no minimum.
- Class IV felony – maximum of five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine with no minimum.
The level of an offense is determined by the statute in which the offense is found. Therefore, the level of an offense cannot be changed by anyone, including the prosecutor. The prosecutor does, however, have the discretion to reduce your charges to a lessor included offense or to a less serious, but similar offense. Your defense to the offense for which you have been charged begins with a thorough understanding of the charge(s) against you which is why you should always consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense attorney as soon as you are arrested/charged with a criminal offense. Contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070 to gets started on your defense.
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