Initial Court Appearances

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Initial Court Appearances

These matters may all be covered in one hearing.

Bond Setting

The purpose for initial hearing in county court is to bring a defendant held in custody before the court to determine if, and under what conditions, they are eligible for release prior to trial.

  • Purpose of bond: To ensure that defendant returns to court and is not a future risk to the community.
  • Parties: The judge, prosecutor and the defendant self-represented or with defense counsel.
  • Roles:
    • The prosecutor advises the court of the defendant’s prior criminal history, pending charges and any other factors they think are relevant to the judge’s decision. 
    • The defendant, either personally or through counsel, advises the court of his or her work history, ties to the community and ability to hire an attorney.
    • The judge considers: the type of the offense, penalty if convicted, flight risk, financial condition, nature of circumstances surrounding the case, prior criminal record, history of failing to appear and ability of the defendant to post bond as presented by the prosecutor.

Judges may set either a percentage bond, allowing the defendant to get out if they pay 10 percent of it, or a personal recognizance bond, allowing the defendant to be released on a “promise to pay” based upon their own signature. Bail bondsmen are not used in the State of Nebraska as they are in other states.

Defendants may be ordered to comply with Pretrial Release as a condition of bond, which is a contract entered into with defendant and Pretrial Release office where a defendant agrees to certain terms, like appearing for regular drug testing, abstaining for drug and alcohol use or meeting regularly with Pretrial Release officer and having no contact with the victim. 

These hearings are open to the public. Any orders entered are accessible in the court file or online using the JUSTICE website.

Legal Terms: Signature bond; own (personal) recognizance; no contact; pre-trial; ten percent bond; scheduled bond; self-represented; bond schedule, pretrial release

Revised 1/2019