In Nebraska, assault in the first degree consists of intentionally or knowingly causing physical injury to another and is a Class II felony. (Neb. Stat. Rev. Ann. §28.308.) Nebraska singles out other assaults for specific punishment, as explained below.
Assault Against a Law Enforcement Officer
Assault on a law enforcement officer is a felony in Nebraska. A law enforcement officer includes:
- police officers
- corrections officers and employees, and
- Department of Health and Human Services employees (when the assailant is a dangerous sexual offender committed to state custody).
Assault in the third degree against a law enforcement officer consists of intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to an officer while he is engaged in the performance of his duties and is a Class IIIA felony. (Neb. Stat. Rev. Ann. §28.931.)
Assault in the first degree against a law enforcement officer consists of intentionally or knowingly causing serious bodily injury to an officer engaged in performing his duties and is a Class ID felony. (Neb. Stat. Rev. Ann. §28.929.)
Assault committed with a dangerous weapon or instrument also is a felony in Nebraska – assault in the second degree. For information about this felony assault, see “Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Nebraska.”
Domestic assault – assault against an intimate partner such as a spouse, former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or someone with whom the defendant has children – that results in serious bodily injury also is a felony in Nebraska. For information about this felony assault, see “Domestic Violence Crimes in Nebraska.”
Actions that Constitute an Assault
Someone acts knowingly or intentionally when they intend to do an act and intend the consequence. For example, extending one’s foot in the pathway of a walking person in order to trip him is a knowing and intentional act; but losing one’s balance and falling, thereby causing the person behind you to fall also, is not.
A reckless act is one that is committed without regard for the outcome or attention to the risk involved. Recklessness is more than simple negligence, or carelessness. Pushing someone out of the way on an escalator so that you can get through, without intending to injure the person but without proper regard for the risk to that person, could be an assault if the person falls and is injured.
Bodily injury is an injury involving physical pain or impairment.
Serious bodily injury is one involving substantial risk of death or serious permanent disfigurement or involving loss or impairment of a body part or organ.
Penalties for Felony Assault in Nebraska
Assault in the First Degree
The penalty for assault in the first degree in Nebraska, a Class II felony, is one to fifty years in prison.
Assault Against a Law Enforcement Officer
The penalty for assault against an officer in the third degree, a Class IIIA felony, is up to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine, or both.
The penalty for assault against an officer in the first degree, a Class ID felony, is three to fifty years in prison.
Hate Crimes and Pregnant Victim Enhancement
Under Nebraska’s Hate Crime statute, an assailant who commits an assault in the first degree because of the person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability or other status listed in the statute must be punished for the next level of offense – a Class ID felony –instead of a Class II felony. (Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. §28.111.) If the victim of an assault in the first degree or an assault against an officer in the first or third degree third degree is pregnant, the offender also is subject to the same enhanced punishment. (Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. §28.115.)
A person convicted of assault in Nebraska can be required to pay restitution, which involves reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling or repair or replacement of damaged property.
A court in Nebraska can impose probation for up to five years for a felony assault conviction rather than imprisonment. If the offense, such as a Class II felony, requires a minimum prison sentence, that sentence must be served before the defendant can begin probation. A person on supervised probation must meet with a probation officer and comply with conditions of probation such as treatment, maintaining employment and avoiding any further criminal activity or arrests.
Pleas and Pre-Trial Options
If you are facing a felony assault charge in Nebraska, an attorney can investigate the case and determine if you were wrongfully charged or there are other reasons why the case should be dismissed before trial. An attorney also may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor on your behalf, or prepare a defense and represent you at trial if you believe you have been wrongly accused or if there are no reasonable plea options. Prosecutors may negotiate and agree to a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea or to the defendant pleading guilty to a different, less serious crime.
The Value of Good Representation
A conviction for felony assault becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A convicted felon loses the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror (for seven years) and carry or own firearms. In certain circumstances, a felony conviction also can result in loss of a professional license. A conviction for a violent felony can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment.
Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.