If you are arrested and charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska you will potentially be facing a period of incarceration if you are convicted of the charges against you. If you enter into a plea agreement with the State of Nebraska your sentence may be agreed upon ahead of time; however, if you are found guilty at trial the judge will determine your sentence. Although a judge usually has a good deal of discretion when deciding a sentence, if a mandatory minimum sentence applies some of that discretion is taken away. If you are currently facing charges in Nebraska it may help to understand the basics with regard to minimum mandatory sentences in Nebraska.
Mandatory minimum sentences, as the name implies, require a defendant who is convicted of an offense to serve a minimum amount of time in prison if convicted of that offense. A defendant may receive a sentence that calls for a longer period of incarceration but not a shorter period than the mandatory minimum. In Nebraska, for example, conviction for a Class ID offense requires a minimum sentence of three years in prison but you could be sentence to as much as 50 years in prison. Likewise, a Class IC felony carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison with up to 50 years possible. Specific types of crimes, and specific types of defendants, may also be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing. For example, crimes committed using a firearm often carry a mandatory minimum sentence, regardless of the underlying crime. Defendants facing third felony conviction are also subject to a mandatory minimum sentence if convicted of the third felony.
When a defendant is serving a sentence that includes a mandatory minimum sentence, the offender does not begin to accrue “good time” credit until the mandatory minimum portion of the sentence has been served. Opponents of mandatory minimum sentencing argue that this has led to overcrowding in Nebraska’s prison system. They also argue that a judge’s hands are tied when faced with a defendant and/or crime for which a mandatory minimum sentence applies.
Several bills involving changes to mandatory minimum sentencing laws are currently being debated in Nebraska, two from Sen. Ernie Chambers’ involving mandatory minimums (LB172) and habitual criminals (LB173), and another dealing with indeterminate sentences (LB483) by Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks. If the bills make it through, mandatory minimum sentencing in Nebraska could be a thing of the past.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense 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.