Nebraska law contains criminal provisions that penalize acts of domestic abuse. A person commits domestic abuse by hurting, trying to harm, or threatening an intimate partner or family or household member. This article will provide a brief overview of Nebraska's domestic abuse laws that apply to crimes against family or household members and intimate partners.
Nebraska law defines what constitutes domestic abuse—what acts and by whom. Domestic abuse offenses in Nebraska include domestic assault and protection order violations.
Domestic assault occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly causes physical injury to an intimate partner or threatens such harm. Intimate partners include current or former spouses or dating partners and parents of the same child.
Domestic abuse victims can ask the court for a protection order that prohibits an abuser from contacting or harming the victim. If the abuser violates any of the terms of the order, they can be arrested and charged with a crime.
The law defines "domestic abuse" as a family or household member doing any of these actions:
Family and household members include people who share the following relationships:
Penalties for domestic assault vary depending on the nature of the offense, the offender's intent, and the resulting injury.
Domestic assault in the third degree includes:
Third-degree domestic assault constitutes a Class I misdemeanor, subjecting a guilty party to up to one year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine. Second and subsequent violations can result in felony charges, depending on the nature of the offense.
Second-degree assault occurs when an unlawful actor uses a dangerous instrument to intentionally or knowingly cause bodily injury to an intimate partner. This Class IIIA felony carries up to three years' imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. A defendant guilty of a second or subsequent violation, a Class IIA felony, is subject to up to 20 years' imprisonment.
Domestic assault in the first degree constitutes a Class IIA felony. Such an offense involves an offender intentionally and knowingly causing serious bodily injury to their intimate partner. A guilty defendant faces up to 20 years in prison. The penalty increases for second and subsequent violations, which are Class II felonies, carrying penalties of 1 to 50 years of incarceration.
If the victim of a domestic assault is pregnant, the offender will receive the punishment for the next level of offense. For instance, a defendant guilty of committing a Class I misdemeanor involving a pregnant victim will be subject to the sentencing penalties of a Class IV felony.
A domestic abuse protection order generally prohibits the defendant from:
A person who violates a domestic abuse protection order commits a Class I misdemeanor, which carries up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Second and subsequent violations increase the charges to a Class IV felony, subjecting a guilty defendant to up to two years' imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
A person who commits the crime of stalking while violating a domestic abuse protection order is guilty of a Class IIIA felony, rather than a Class I misdemeanor. Additionally, a defendant guilty of stalking, who was previously convicted of a felony involving the same victim or a family or household member of the victim, faces a Class IIIA felony conviction.
In addition to imprisonment and monetary penalties, Nebraska law establishes the following conditions, restrictions, and penalties for domestic abuse cases. Whether an offense constitutes domestic abuse depends on the factors involved and not necessarily how the crime is labeled.
When a police officer believes a person has committed a violation of a domestic abuse protection order, the officer must arrest the suspected offender. The officer can make a warrantless arrest regardless of the severity of the violation and even if they did not witness the unlawful conduct.
The officer can't release the suspect until they go in front of a judge. At that time, the judge will establish the conditions of the suspect's release from custody, including whether they must post bail. Release conditions can include drug and alcohol monitoring and no contact with the victim.
When making an arrest for domestic assault, law enforcement must seize all weapons that were allegedly used or threatened to be used by the suspect.
Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense loses their right to possess a firearm for seven years under Nebraska law. A felony conviction also results in the loss of firearm privileges under state and federal laws. Possessing a firearm in violation of these restrictions is a Class ID felony. This same penalty applies to a person possessing a firearm in violation of a domestic abuse protection order.
If you have been arrested for or charged with a crime of domestic abuse, contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A conviction for domestic violence can have serious, long-lasting consequences. A lawyer can help you navigate the court system and discuss potential outcomes in your case based on your unique set of circumstances.
(Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-105, 28-106, 28-115, 28-310.01, 28-311.04, 28-323, 28-1206, 29-440, 29-901, 42-903, 42-924, 42-928, 42-929; 18 U.S.C. §§ 921, 922 (2023).)