1Victim’s Guide to the NebraskaCriminal Justice SystemInformation about the Criminal Justice System**** Please note that the information contained in this booklet is only in relationship tofelony based offenses.

Important Contact Information19County Attorney’s Name:Prosecutor’s Name:Phone Number:Victim Assistance Agency:Contact Name(s):Phone Number:VINE 1-877-634-8463Inmate Name:Inmate Number:Institution Name:Your four-digit PIN:How Do I Find Help?To find out where to get help or information call or visit these websites:Nebraska Coalition for Victims of Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition: 402-476-6256or www.ndvsac.orgMothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD): 1-800-623-3435 or 402-434-5330 (Nebraska Office)Nebraska Alliance of Child Advocacy Centers: 402-595-1326 or Crime Commission: (402) 471-2194 or

Restitution Payment by offenders to the court, which is then transferredto the victim, for damage that happened during a crime. Restitution helpsto make the offender accountable for the crime and helps restore thevictim’s financial loss.Subpoena A court order directing a person to be present at a certaintime and at a certain place. Failure to comply with the subpoena willcause a person to be in contempt of court.Victim As defined by Neb. Rev. Statute 29-119 is a person who, as aresult of a homicide, a first or second degree sexual assault, a first or second degree assault, a sexual assault of a child, a first degree false imprisonment, or a robbery, has had a personal confrontation with the offender.Victim shall also mean a person who suffered serious bodily injury as aresult of a motor vehicle accident when the violator was charged withdriving under the influence. Some criminal justice agencies use a broader definition for victim.Victim Impact Statement A written statement that a victim may use toexplain to a Probation Officer and a judge how the crime has affectedhim or her emotionally, physically and financially. Forms are availablefor this purpose from the Probation Office, a victim advocate, or directlyfrom the County Attorney’s office.Waive (Victim Rights) To voluntarily give up or to temporarily postpone your rights as a victim of a crime.Work Release A program that allows an inmate who is confined in prison to be released each day to go to work in the ��——This pamphlet is created by the Nebraska Crime Commission.2004Updated April 201418This guide is intended to provide you some very basic infor3mation about Nebraska’s Criminal Justice System, specificallythose cases that involve a felony level offense. It is meant to bean overview, so if you have additional questions, please contactthe County Attorney or a Victim Advocate in your area.Intimidation is Not OkayIf you or someone in your immediate family is being threatened throughthe use of violence or intimidation by the defendant, or at his/herdirection, please do one or all of the following: Contact your local law enforcement agency immediately and reportthe incident. Contact the County Attorney’s Office and tell the attorney handlingthe case what has been happening. Ask the County Attorney or an advocate for information on protectionorders. Contact the nearest Victim Assistance Program and requestinformation.Victim’s Rights and DutyLater in this guide we will review some specific rights for victims in thecriminal justice system. These rights can be found in Nebraska RevisedStatute 81-1848. These rights include your right to receive informationand to be notified of specific parts of the criminal justice process, as wellas several other rights. In order to ensure that your rights are provided toyou, it is necessary that the County Attorney know how to contact you.Statute requires, in felony cases, that victims of crime keep the CountyAttorney informed of current address and phone number until the defendant is sentenced or a final decision in the case is reached.3

The Criminal Justice SystemFurlough A privilege of limited freedom from prison of 12 to 4817hours.Furloughs are approved by the Director of the Department of Correctionsand the Board of Parole. Inmates who are on furlough are escorted byapproved sponsors who are required to accompany the inmate at alltimes.(Felony Cases)Crime CommittedInvestigationArrestJury Twelve county residents sworn to decide if the defendant is guiltyor not guilty of a crime he/she is charged with.Felony Case Filed by ProsecutionMisdemeanor A lessor offense for which a maximum sentence of oneyear or less in jail, probation, and/or a fine can be imposed. There is nopreliminary hearing held for misdemeanor crimes.Initial ArraignmentPreliminary HearingDismissalBound Over to District CourtReleaseFiling of Information/Arraignment(Plea Negotiations)Not Guilty(Set For Trial)Guilty/No ContestPre-SentenceInvestigationDiscoveryPretrial MotionSentencingTrial & VerdictNo Contest ( Nolo Contendre) A plea by the defendant in a criminalprosecution that, without admitting guilt, subjects him or her to aconviction but does not prevent him or her from denying the charges in afuture court proceeding.Parole The supervised release of an inmate after he/she has served a portion of his/her sentence in prison. An inmate’s parole release is subjectto the conditions set by the Nebraska Board of Parole. Violation of theseconditions can result in the arrest and return of the inmate (parolee) toprison.Parole Board (Board of Parole) A five-member board (separate fromthe Nebraska Department of Correctional Services) that makes decisionsabout whether to approve, deny or revoke paroles.Perjury Not telling the truth after swearing in under oath.AppealGuiltyNot GuiltyPre-SentenceInvestigationReleasePre-Sentence Investigation A report prepared by a probation officerwhich provides background information about the defendant, the crimeand its impact on the victim. The judge uses this information insentencing the defendant.Protection Order An order from a judge designed to attempt to protectvictims from future acts of abuse or harassment.SentencingPublic Defender Lawyer employed by the local government torepresent defendants who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer’s services.Appeal417

GlossaryArraigned To be called before a Court to be notified of the charges andpossible penalties that have been filed against the defendant.Bail An amount of money set by the court which allows a person chargedwith a crime to be released from jail. The purpose of bail is to insure thedefendant (person charged with a crime) will appear in court. Thedefendant usually must pay 10% of the amount of bail set by the judge inorder to be released. For example, a defendant would need to pay 250 ofa 2,500 bail to be released.Complaint A written document presented to the court charging adefendant with an offense.Continuances Sometimes court hearings cannot always take place asscheduled. As a witness you may be informed that your case has beencontinued or will be heard on another day.Conviction When a dfendant is found guilty of the crime he/shecommitted either by a jry or by a judge.County Attorney/Prosecutor/County Attorney’s Office A lawyeremployed by the county whose job is to prosecute people who are accusedof committing crimes. In many counties, there are several attorneysemployed. One is the County Attorney and the other attorneys are calledDeputy County Attorneys.Crime Victim Reparations Fund A program to assist innocent victimsof crime who suffer bodily harm and have incurred a financial loss as adirect result of a criminal act.Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights A portion of the state consitution andstate statute that guarantees certain rights to crime victims and which arelisted in this pamphlet.Defendant A person who is charged with committing a crime.Felony A serious crime that is usually punishable by imprisonment in astate penitentiary or county jail or by time spent on probation and/or afine.16Explanation of the Criminal Justice System(Felony Cases)5The image on the previous page illustrates the flow of a felony casethrough the criminal justice system. Below is a brief explanation of eachstage of the process. It may help you to know that the defendant is theperson who committed the crime.Felony Crime CommittedLaw enforcement responds to a call and should first attend to the immediate needs of the victim. The officer may contact an advocate to assist withthis as well. The officer investigates the crime by taking statements fromwitnesses which will likely include a statement from the victim.InvestigationIf law enforcement gathers enough evidence against a person suspected ofcommitting the crime, they will arrest that person. In some situations,they may obtain an arrest warrant from the court and then make the arrest.ArrestIf an arrest is made, the facts of the case are presented to the County Attorney (Prosecutor) who determines if criminal charges are to be filedwith the court. At this point, the authority of the case transfers from thelaw enforcement agency to the County Attorney’s Office.Felony Case Filed by ProsecutionIf the prosecutor believes there is enough evidence to prove that the accused committed the crime, the prosecutor will decide what charges are tobe filed and files the criminal charges with the court.Initial Arraignment (County Court)The accused is brought before a County Judge and the County Attorneyinforms the defendant (accused) of the criminal charges against him or herand the possible penalties for such crimes. A defense attorney is appointed for the defendant if he/she cannot afford one. Possible Plea Negotiations: In plea-bargaining, the defendantmay be offered a reduced (lesser) charge by the prosecutor in exchange for a guilty plea. As a victim, you have a right to be informed of any plea that is accepted.5

Bail: If no plea-bargain is offered or agreed to, a date is set forfurther court proceedings. The judge may set bail for the defendant.Docket Call (County Court)Some county court judges may use a Docket Call to control his/herschedule. Victims do not need to appear at a Docket Call. The prosecutor and the defense attorney appear and the court sets a date for the Preliminary Hearing.Preliminary Hearing (County Court)The defendant has the right to waive (not have) the Preliminary Hearingat any point before it is held. At a Preliminary Hearing, it is possible thatthe victim and other witnesses may be asked to testify and asked specificquestions by the Defense Attorney (the Defendant’s Attorney); this is notuncommon. The defendant will be present at the Preliminary Hearing.During the Preliminary Hearing the following may occur. Dismissal: If the judge decides there is not enough evidence toprove that a crime was committed or that the defendant most likely did not commit the crime, the case will be dismissed. Thejudge may also dismiss the felony charge. If so, the prosecutorwould have the option to re-file the case as a misdemeanor, orlesser charge.Release: If the case is dismissed, the defendant is released andfree to leave.Bound Over to District Court: If during the Preliminary Hearing, the judge decides there is sufficient evidence to prove that acrime was committed and that the defendant most likely committed the crime, the case will be transferred to the District Court fortrial. This does not mean that the defendant was found guilty. Itsimply means that the Judge thinks there is enough evidence tocontinue to explore if the defendant committed the crime.Court clerk who then gives the forms to the judge. These forms are available from the District Court clerk or the Supreme Court website15referenced earlier. It is recommended that you work with a victim advocate inyour area to fill out the forms to obtain a protection order.Victim Information & Notification Everyday (VINE)VINE (Victim Information & Notification Everyday) is a free anonymouscomputer service that provides victims of crime the ability to check on thestatus of a specific offender and/or be notified if the offender is releasedfrom prison or jail or transferred to another Nebraska correctional facility.The Nebraska VINE service is available in English, Vietnamese andSpanish.For inmate status information or to be notified when an inmate is releasedor transferred, call, toll-free, 1-877 NE-4-VINE (1-877-634-8463) andfollow the prompts or go to to register. You may alsorequest help from a victim assistance agency.When checking on the status of an inmate, you will be asked to enter thename of the offender or his/her inmate number. VINE will quicklyprovide you with inmate status information.If you want to be notified when the offender is released or transferred toanother facility you must register either by calling the number listedabove or going to and clicking on the Nebraska map.During registration by phone you will be asked to provide a telephonenumber where you can be reached and to select a four digit PersonalIdentification Number (PIN) code. When the VINE system calls you andthere is no answer or the line is busy, VINE will continue to call for aminimum of 48 hours. VINE will leave a message on an answeringmachine, but will continue to call for 48 hours or until you enter yourPIN. Entering your PIN notifies the VINE system that you have receivedthe notice.Filing of Information and Arraignment (District Court)The charges are brought before a District Court Judge. The defendant istold what charges are being brought against him or her and the penalties.A date is set for further proceedings. Plea Negotiations: Plea-bargaining may take place between the615

Other Help AvailableCrime Victim’s Reparations ProgramYou may qualify for financial help with bills relating to your crime.If you have medical expenses, funeral expenses or have lost wages as aresult of a crime, and which are not covered by insurance, you mayqualify for reimbursement under the Nebraska Crime Victims ReparationAct. To qualify you must report the crime to law enforcement within 72hours and apply for compensation within 2 years from the date of thecrime. The compensation program does not cover loss of property orpain and suffering.For more information and a claim form contact your local VictimAssistance Program, Domestic Violence Program, state or local MADDprogram or contact the Nebraska Crime Commission at P.O. Box 94946,Lincoln, Nebraska 68509; or call (402) 471-2828. More information canbe found on the Nebraska Crime Commission website: on “Services/Programs” and then “Crime Victim Reparations”.Protection OrderA protection order is an order from a judge to help protect people fromabuse or harassment. It is granted because someone attempted or threatened to cause bodily injury, or intimidated the other person.There are two types of protection orders, a Domestic Abuse ProtectionOrder and a Harassment Protection Order. For more information on Nebraska’s protection orders please visit the Nebraska Supreme Court’s selfhelp website at: and click on Protection from Abuse. A Domestic Abuse Protection Order is for peoplewho have been in close relationships (relatives, spouses or former spouses, people who have lived or are living together and people in a datingrelationship) and have experienced injury or threats by that person. AHarassment Protection Order does not depend upon relationships, butrequires a number of telephone or personal contacts that seriously terrify,threaten, or intimidate a person.County Attorney, the defendant and his/her attorney. In pleabargaining, the defendant may be offered a reduced (lesser)7charge in exchange for a guilty plea. As a victim, you have aright to be informed of any plea that is accepted.PleaIf there are no plea negotiations, the defendant will go before the courtand enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or Nolo Contendre (No Contest) ofthe crime for which they are charged. No Contest is a plea, which thedefendant can enter in court. When doing so, the defendant is not denying or admitting guilt to the charges. The judge will review the evidencepresented and will make a ruling of guilt or acquittal (not guilty). Thedefendant can later deny the charges. If the judge rules that there isenough evidence to support a conviction then a “No Contest” plea isequivalent to a guilty plea.A) Pleads Not Guilty: The defendant is stating that he/she is not guiltyof committing the crime(s). The following procedures then occur.1) Set for Trial: The court schedules the date of the trial. Priorto trial, the defendant’s attorney may file motions (paperwork) toexclude a person who will testify against the defendant. The victim’s testimony may be needed with such motions. Such motionsmay also include a request to exclude certain types of physicalevidence or specific testimony from being introduced during thetrial. The defendant’s attorney may also take sworn, statementsfrom the victim and other witnesses prior to trial. This process iscalled a Deposition.2) Discovery Pre-trial motion: The defendant’s attorney is provided the evidence the prosecutor has against the defendant.3) Trial & Verdict: The defendant and his/her attorney decide ifthey want a trial by jury or with a Judge. A jury is made up of 12people randomly selected by the court who hear all the evidencein the case and decide the verdict (guilty or not guilty). If the trialis with a judge (also known as a Bench Trial), then the judge decides the verdict (guilty or not guilty).You must complete protection order forms and give them to the District147

4) Not Guilty Verdict: If the defendant is found not guilty, he/she is released and is free.5) Guilty Verdict: If the defendant is found guilty of the chargesthere is usually a Pre-sentence Investigation (PSI) completed.6) Pre-sentence Investigation (PSI): If the defendant is foundguilty, a pre-sentence investigation may be completed by Probation. It consists of an interview with the defendant, a review ofhis/her criminal record, and a review of the specific facts of thecrime. A form may be sent to the victim called a Victim ImpactStatement. The victim may use this to provide information forthe court regarding how he/she was impacted by the crime. TheProbation Office may also contact the victim by phone to collectthis information. The victim has the option of filling out the formor submitting their own statement to be included in the PSI. It isimportant to note that the PSI may be made available to the defendant. The probation officer may make a recommendation tothe judge about the type and severity of the sentence (penalties).The judge may or may not follow the recommended sentencefrom probation.7) Sentencing: The penalties for the defendant will be announced in District Court after the trial and the pre-sentence investigation is completed. The sentence may include fines and/orjail or prison time or probation or all of the above.after the convicted person is released from custody ortreatment.133) the Department of Health and Human Services: when the convicted person becomes the subject of a mental health petition prior to their discharge from custody orwithin thirty days after such discharge;when a person under the Mental Health Board Commitment escapes from an inpatient facility providing treatment and again when the person is returned to an inpatientfacility;when a person under a mental health commitment is discharged or has a change in disposition;when a person under a mental health commitment is granted a furlough or release for 24 hours or longer;when a person under a mental health commitment is released into educational programs or work release programs. Such notification shall occur at the beginning andtermination of any such programs.4) the Board of Pardons: of any pardon or commutation proceedings;if a pardon or commutation of the conviction has beengranted.8) Appeal: If the defendant is found guilty, he/she has a right toappeal the conviction to a higher court. During this time, the defendant may be free on an appeal bond. (See Appeal Process Information Section)B) Pleads Guilty or No Contest: The defendant pleads guilty or NoContest (Nolo Contendre) to the charges that were brought to the DistrictCourt. Before deciding on the sentencing, the Jjdge may order a presentence investigation.1) Pre sentencing Investigation (PSI): If the defendant is foundguilty, a pre-sentence investigation may be completed by Probation. It consists of an interview with the defendant, a review ofhis/her criminal record, and a review of the specific facts of the813

9. To have the family members of all homicide victims afforded allof the rights of this act.Additional Rights for Victims of Crime:1. To waive their rights as a victim at any time by contacting theClerk of the Court or through an Attorney;2. To request the County Attorney to forward their name and address to the appropriate agency so that they can be notified by:1) the Department of Correctional Services or county correctionsagency: if the convicted person is granted a furlough or releasefrom incarceration for 24 hours or longer or transferred tocommunity status;if a convicted person is released into a community-basedprogram, including educational release and work releaseprograms.if a convicted person escapes or does not return from agranted furlough or release and be notified when the convicted person is returned into custody;if a convicted person is discharged from custody uponcompletion of his or her sentence.of the earliest date the convicted person can be paroled orreleased;of any reduction in the convicted persons minimum sentence;2) the Board of Parole: of the tentative release date and the earliest parole eligibility date of the convicted person;of any Parole Hearings or proceedings;when a convicted person who is on parole is returned tocustody because of parole violations;if it has been decided that the convicted person is a mentally disordered sex offender or is a convicted sex offender12crime. The victim may be sent a Victim Impact Statement formto fill out. The victim can use this to provide information9to thecourt regarding how he/she was impacted by the crime. The Probation Office may also contact the victim by phone to collect thisinformation. The victim has the option of filling out the form orsubmitting their own statement to be included in the PSI. It isimportant to note that the PSI may be made available to the defendant. The probation officer may make a recommendation tothe judge about the type and severity of the sentence (penalties).The judge may or may not follow the recommended sentencefrom probation.2) Sentencing: The penalties for the defendant will be announced in District Court after the pre-sentence investigation ispresented. The sentence may include fines and/or jail or prisontime or probation or all of the above.3) Appeal: The defendant has a right to appeal the sentence to ahigher court. During this time, the defendant may be free on anappeal bond. (See Appeal Process Information Section)Appeal Process InformationAn appeal is usually filed because the defendant and/or his/her attorneybelieve that there is some error in the procedure or application of the law.The court will review this to determine if an actual error exists. Duringthis time the defendant may be released on an appeal bond until the appeal is heard in the higher court, which could be several years later. TheTrial Court’s decision is not considered final until all appeals are heard.Once the appeal is heard, the decision will be made to either uphold ordismiss the decision of the lower court.Appeals are first taken to the Court of Appeals and once a decision ismade by the Court of Appeals, the defendant can then appeal to the StateSupreme Court.9

Victims’ RightsBelow is a summary of the basic rights for victims of crime. If more information is needed contact the prosecutor in the County Attorney’s office handling the case or a Victim Assistance Program. You can alsofind the specific victims’ rights in Nebraska Revised Statute 81-1848.6.7.Victims Of Crime (as defined by Neb Rev. 29-119) Shall Have thefollowing rights:1. To be able to see any information that is collected by criminaljustice agencies, that is available to the public.2. To be notified by the County Attorney: of the crimes for which the defendant is charged; the defendant’s bond; the time and place of any scheduled court proceedings, including the sentencing proceeding; if the time and place of any scheduled proceedings haschanged; if the defendant was found guilty or not guilty, and whatcrimes he/she was found guilty for, and the penalty; of the time and place of any further judicial proceedings if thedefendant was acquitted (found not guilty) on grounds of insanity; of the victim’s right to make provide a statement to the Probation Office for the PSI, and information on how to contact theProbation Office; if the PSI and any statement by the victim included in suchreport is to be made available to the defendant; and of their right to submit a written impact statement at the sentencing proceeding or to read his or her impact statement atthe sentencing proceeding.3. To be present throughout the entire trial of the defendant, unlessthe victim is to be called as a witness.4. The victim will be notified by the Parole Board of his/her right tosubmit a written statement for consideration by the Board and tobe notified of any action taken by the Board.5. To submit a written statement for consideration at any conditional108.9.release (a furlough from incarceration for 24 hours or longer) proceedings, Board of Parole proceedings, pardon proceedings,11 orcommutation (change in the punishment) proceedings.To be notified of the filing of an appeal by the defendant.To be notified by the Attorney General: that the defendant has filed an appeal of the conviction; about the appeal process, including possible dispositions; if the defendant has been released on bail pending the disposition of the appeal; of the time and place of any appeal proceedings and anychanges in the time or place of those proceedings; of the results of the appeal; and of the final disposition of the case within 30 days after thefinal disposition is made.To be immediately notified of the escape of the prisoner.To be notified if the prisoner is confined pursuant to a sentence.Victims and Witnesses of Crime Shall Have the Following Rights:1. The victim will be informed of any witness fees available, otherfinancial assistance and any social services that may be available,and the process to apply for this assistance.2. To be informed of any cancelled court proceeding for which thevictim received a subpoena to appear.3. To receive protection from harm and threats of harm arising outof their cooperation with law enforcement and prosecution efforts.4. During court proceedings, to be provided, whenever possible, asecure area that is not near the defendant and the defendant’sfamily and friends.5. To have any stolen or other personal property returned by law enforcement when it is no longer needed as evidence.6. To be provided help in working with the victim’s employer tominimize an employee’s loss of pay and other benefits resultingfrom the victim’s court appearances.7. To a speedy disposition of the case in which they are involved.8. To be informed by the county attorney of the final disposition of afelony case in which they were involved and to be notified whenever the defendant is released from custody.11

Ask the County Attorney or an advocate for information on protection orders. Contact the nearest Victim Assistance Program and request information. Victim’s Rights and Duty Later in this guide we will review some specific rights for victims in the criminal justice system. These rights can be fo