Additional Information: Misdemeanor Cases in Nebraska

Additional Information: Misdemeanor Cases in Nebraska

Criminal offenses in Nebraska are usually heard in the county courts. These may include violations of city ordinances, traffic infractions and misdemeanors. Crimes, punishment and criminal process are established by the Nebraska Legislature.

For county court contact information click here.

Flowcharts

The flowcharts below for misdemeanor cases may help you understand what happens in court.   

For additional information on felonies, see Felony Cases in Nebraska.

Waivers

For less serious offenses, you may have the option of waiving your rights (Your Rights in Nebraska's County Courts) and your court appearance and paying the fines and costs without going to court. 

The Nebraska Supreme Court Rule § 6-1455 establishes a statewide Waiver/Fine Schedule which sets the fines for many offenses.  Local judges may approve waiver amounts for offenses in their courts.

Payments can be made online by going to the Nebraska Judicial Branch Internet Payment System.

Court Appearances

In most cases, a court appearance begins with an arrest or citation issued to the defendant, but you may receive notice by mail or personal service by a sheriff that you are charged with an offense and have a court date.

Your citation will include a court date for your appearance. You must appear if the offense with which you are charged does not qualify for a waiver of your court appearance, or if you go to court to contest or explain the charges. At that court appearance, the judge will give you your rights (Your Rights in Nebraska's County Courts) explain the charge(s) and possible penalties. If you plead not guilty, another date will be scheduled for your trial.

If you are charged with an offense which may result in jail time, and cannot afford an attorney, you can request that an attorney be appointed to represent you at no cost to you. In order to make such request, a Financial Affidavit must be completed.

At your first appearance before a judge, you will have 3 options:

  • Plead “guilty” – admit that you did what you are charged with;
  • Plead “no contest” – you don’t admit anything but don’t want to contest the charges

With either of the pleas above, the judge will usually find you guilty and determine an appropriate penalty under the law, or you may:

  • Plead “not guilty”. 

If you plead “not guilty” the case will be set for another court date when you can arrange for an attorney, evidence and witnesses, if you wish, to help you present your case to the court.

Most trials are argued to a judge.  However, if you are charged with an offense which may result in jail time if you are convicted, you may submit a Jury Trial Request to request your case be heard by a jury. A jury is a group of people – 6 in county court and 12 in district court – chosen from the community to hear the facts and decide the guilt or innocence of the defendant. 

If found guilty, the judge will determine a sentence following the guidelines set in the Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 28. The sentence may include a fine, jail, payment of damages to a victim, or a period of supervision by a probation officer. Go to “About Probation in Nebraska” to read more about the probation process.  

Court Costs

Anyone who has charges filed in court must pay court costs as required under Nebraska law and set out on the Waiver/Fine Schedule

You can pay your fines and costs online on the Nebraska Judicial Branch Internet Payment System.

Additional statutory background