Being charged with a crime can be a surreal experience. Regardless of the reason, it can be daunting to prepare for criminal court as a defendant. In Nebraska, assault offenses are taken very seriously, making it all the more crucial to understand your rights and secure a strong defense as soon as possible.
If you’ve been charged with assault in Scotts Bluff County, it’s crucial to consult with a qualified advocate at your earliest convenience to avoid the harsh and life-altering penalties of a criminal conviction. Fortunately, our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Island Law Office, PC, LLO have been serving clients throughout the Nebraska Panhandle since 1994.
Our trusted assault attorneys have extensive experience representing our neighbors in Gering and beyond in their time of need and can work closely with you to determine the most effective defense to employ on your behalf. Reach out to Island Law Office today to learn how we can fight to defend your hard-earned reputation and restore your freedom.
Assault charges can lead to irreversible consequences for your future. Call (308) 633-4040 to discuss your case with a knowledgeable defense lawyer in Scotts Bluff County.
Types of Assault Offenses in Nebraska
Under Nebraska’s criminal code, “assault” is defined as intentionally or knowingly causing bodily injury to another person. There are numerous types of assault offenses in Nebraska that vary in severity and penalties, including:
Assault in the Third Degree
Third-degree assault is considered the least severe assault offense in Nebraska. Under Nebraska Revised Statute §28-310, assault in the third degree is generally a misdemeanor offense entailing:
- Intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another person;
- Threatening another person with immediate bodily injury; and/or
- Engaging in menacing conduct.
This type of assault typically involves minor injuries or threats of harm. The criminal penalties of a conviction for third-degree assault can vary depending on specific factors, such as whether the defendant has prior offenses, but the following penalties typically apply:
- Up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
Assault in the Second Degree
Second-degree assault is a felony offense that carries harsher penalties than third-degree assault. Under Nebraska Revised Statute §28-309, assault in the second degree occurs when a person:
- Intentionally or knowingly causes bodily injury to another person with a dangerous instrument;
- Recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person with a dangerous instrument; and/or
- Unlawfully strikes or wounds another while 1) legally confined, 2) in legal custody of the Department of Correctional Services, or 3) committed as a sex offender.
The criminal penalties for second-degree assault can be substantial if convicted, including imprisonment for up to 20 years and/or a fine of up to $25,000.
Assault in the First Degree
First-degree assault is a Class II felony and the most severe form of assault in Nebraska. It occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly causes serious bodily injury to another person with the use of a dangerous instrument or by any other means. Under Nebraska Revised Statute §28-308, assault in the first degree is punishable by up to 50 years in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000.
Domestic Assault Offenses
Under Nebraska Revised Statutes §28-323, domestic assault offenses can be classified as one of the following degrees:
- Domestic assault in the third degree: As the least severe type of domestic assault, this offense entails “intentionally and knowingly causing bodily injury to his or her intimate partner; threatening an intimate partner with imminent bodily injury; or threatening an intimate partner in a menacing manner.” For first-time offenders, third-degree domestic assault is punishable as a Class I misdemeanor. Defendants with prior convictions may be charged with a Class IIIA felony.
- Domestic assault in the second degree: A person commits this type of domestic assault offense when they “intentionally and knowingly cause bodily injury to their intimate partner with a dangerous instrument.” For first-time offenders, second-degree domestic assault is punishable as a Class IIIA felony. For subsequent offenses, defendants may be charged with a Class IIA felony.
- Domestic assault in the first degree: As the most severe type of domestic assault, this offense involves intentionally or knowingly causing serious bodily injury to their intimate partner. First-time offenders can be found guilty of a Class IIA felony, and any subsequent offenses may be charged as a Class II felony.
Defending Against Assault Charges in Scotts Bluff County
There are various legal strategies that may effectively defend against assault charges in Nebraska courts, including:
- Self-Defense – This defense argues that you were protecting yourself from imminent harm or injury. To successfully claim self-defense, you must demonstrate that you reasonably believed that force was necessary to prevent harm to yourself and that the amount of force used was proportional to the threat faced.
- Defense of Others – Similarly to self-defense, this strategy argues that you were protecting another person from imminent harm. To successfully claim defense of others, you must prove that there was a reasonable belief that force was necessary to prevent harm to the other person and that the force used was proportional to the threat faced.
- Lack of Intent – This defense asserts that you did not have the required intent to commit an assault. In Nebraska, assault requires the intentional or knowing infliction of bodily harm. If you can demonstrate that your actions were accidental or unintentional, you may be able to avoid a conviction.
- Lack of Evidence – A strong defense strategy often involves pointing out weaknesses in the prosecution's case, such as insufficient evidence to prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This could include challenging the credibility of witnesses, disputing the accuracy of physical evidence, or highlighting inconsistencies in the alleged victim's account of events.
- Entrapment – This defense claims that you were induced or persuaded by law enforcement to commit the assault, and you would not have done so without their influence. To successfully argue entrapment, you must show that the government's actions went beyond mere opportunity and encouraged criminal conduct.
Keep in mind that it’s imperative to consult with a trusted assault attorney beforehand, as they can use their in-depth legal knowledge to determine the most appropriate legal strategy to execute on your behalf.
Importance of Hiring Skilled Representation
Facing assault charges can be an intimidating experience, with potentially severe consequences if convicted. An experienced criminal defense attorney can play a crucial role in defending against these charges by:
- Thoroughly examining the evidence to identify weaknesses in the prosecution's case
- Interviewing witnesses to gather additional information and challenge their credibility
- Developing a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific situation
- Negotiating with prosecutors to potentially reduce charges or obtain a favorable plea deal
By securing strong representation from a skilled criminal defense lawyer, defendants in Gering can increase their chances of achieving a favorable outcome in court.
Defending the Accused in Scotts Bluff County & Beyond
At Island Law Office, PC, LLO, we have a hard-earned reputation for providing responsive, high-quality legal services tailored to each client’s unique needs. Our full-service litigation firm has extensive experience and specialized knowledge in various practice areas in Nebraska, from criminal defense to personal injury. If you’re in need of an experienced trial lawyer to protect your rights and ensure that your voice is heard, look no further than our Gering trial attorneys. Our compassionate team is proud to serve our neighbors throughout the Nebraska Panhandle, including Scotts Bluff, Dawes, Sheridan, and Cheyenne Counties.
When facing criminal charges, skilled representation is necessary to establish a strong defense. Call (308) 633-4040 to schedule a consultation with a trusted defense attorney in Scotts Bluff County.