If you have been accused of a crime, the most important step you can take for yourself and your future is to hire the right defense attorney to represent you throughout the prosecution of your case. Deciding what type of attorney you need, and which attorney to retain, may seem like impossible decisions to make at first. Taking into account the type of charges the State has filed against you is a good place to start. For example, if you have been charged with a violent crime, hiring a violent crime attorney makes sense.
What Is a “Violent Crime?”
It may seem to be a self-explanatory term; however, the term “violent crime” actually has a formal definition used by the federal government. 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. Of course, when it comes to finding the right attorney for your case, it makes sense to assume that a violent crime includes those specifically mentioned in the UCR along with other criminal offenses in which violence was used or threatened during the commission of the crime. Common examples of violent crimes include:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault (rape)
- Armed robbery
- Possession of a firearm
Why Is Defending a Violent Crime Different?
There are several reasons why defending a violent crime is often different than defending non-violent offenses. To begin with, when violence is used or threatened during the commission of a crime it typically carries harsher punishments and requires more skill and experience to defend. If convicted of a crime involving violence, the violent conduct could be used as an aggravating factor when it comes time for sentencing, resulting in an increased term of incarceration. In addition, if a weapon was involved in the commission of the crime, even if the weapon wasn’t actually used, you could be facing additional charges and/or a harsher sentence.
Another reason why defending a violent crime usually involves different tactics is that there is almost always a victim involved. Sometimes the victim is actually the key to defending a violent crime if the victim is likely to decline to cooperate with the prosecution or the victim has an ulterior motive for alleging that a crime even occurred. Conversely, if the victim will make a good witness, and is actively cooperating with the prosecution, your attorney must take that into consideration when preparing your defense because the impact a victim has on a jury can make or break your defense. Some victims make excellent witnesses while others appear inherently unreliable or even unbelievable. You need an attorney who is skilled at interviewing an alleged victim and deciding how that individual will handle being questioned at trial as well as how the jury will react to him or her.
If you are ultimately convicted of the charges against you, either because you accept a plea agreement or at trial, you also need an attorney who understands how to mitigate your sentence. Hopefully, there are factors that help lessen the severity of your actions, explain your involvement in the crime, and/or illustrate that this was a one-time lapse in judgment. These “mitigating factors” are what may be used to decrease the severity of your sentence. Once again, an attorney who routinely defends violent crimes will know what factors may help you at sentencing.
Contact a Nebraska Violent Crime Attorney
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 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 with an experienced criminal defense attorney.