Are you currently facing charges for a violent crime in the State of Nebraska? If so, you probably already realize that you may be facing some serious penalties if you are convicted. Most violent crimes carry harsher penalties than their non-violent counterparts. This is one of the many reasons you should have an experienced violent crime attorney on your side to ensure that your rights are protected and to increase your chances of avoiding a conviction. One of the factors that typically separates a violent from a non-violent offense is the presence or involvement of a victim. To help you understand what that means to your defense, an Omaha violent crime attorney explains how a victim impacts your case.
How Is a Violent Criminal Offense Defined?
When you hear the term “violent crime,” you likely have a good idea what offenses are included within the purview of the term. The term “violent crime” actually has a formal definition used by the federal government though 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. 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
Victims in a Violent Crime Prosecution
One factor that is typically present in a violent crime is a victim. Although a victim can also be involved in a non-violent crime, such as identify theft, they are almost always found in a violent crime. The fact that a victim is involved can have a significant impact on how the case is handled both by the prosecution and the defense.
For the prosecuting attorney, a victim often means there is more pressure to secure a conviction. If, that is, the victim is cooperating with the authorities. Sometimes a victim will refuse to cooperate. There are several reasons why this might be the case. In a domestic assault case, for example, the defendant is the spouse/partner of the victim and the victim might not want to see him/her incarcerated. Victims may also refuse to help the authorities for fear of reprisals. This is particularly common if the defendant is a member of gang.
If the victim is cooperating, however, the prosecuting attorney may feel additional pressure to convict the defendant because of the simple fact that a victim adds the “human factor” to the case.
For the defense, the presence of a victim may also change things. One of the first things your defense attorney will do is try and determine if the victim is cooperating. The next concern is how good of a witness the victim will make if the case goes to trial. The reality is that some victims come off as sincere and garner sympathy from a jury while other appear cold and juries feel little sympathy. The victim’s reliability and credibility will also be considered by your defense attorney. Your attorney may even hire a private investigator to look into the victim’s past. Questioning an alleged victim, however, at trial must be done with great care because in most cases, attacking a witness that the State has presented as a victim can be very problematic and may cause the attorney to lose the respect of the jury. Conversely, failing to explore ulterior motives for a victim to accuse the defendant of a crime could lead to a conviction which is why it is crucial to have an experienced Omaha violent crime attorney on your side if there is a victim involved.
Contact an Omaha Violent Crime Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with a violent criminal offense in the State of Nebraska, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska criminal defense 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.