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The Constitution guarantees that someone accused of a crime has a right to see and hear the witnesses against them. If the case goes to trial, witnesses must testify before the judge, and possibly a jury, as to what happened. When you spoke to the police, there may have been certain things overlooked or not talked about that are very important in regards to what happened. For those reasons, you will need to testify in court so that a complete picture of what happened can be presented.
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The investigating police officers will complete written reports and forward those to the County Attorney's Office. One of two deputy county attorneys assigned specifically to domestic cases will review the reports and decide what charges to file against your abuser. The deputy will then file a complaint, a legal document charging the abuser with a crime, with the Lancaster County Court Clerk's Office. This will usually be done the morning following the arrest.
Simply answered, you can’t. While your feelings about the case will be taken into consideration, we will not drop or dismiss charges solely at your request. All final decisions will be made by the deputy county attorney assigned to your case.
Yes, the domestic violence paralegal will call you and inform you of the charge(s) and the requested bond amount for your abuser. The paralegal will answer any questions that you have at that time.
Usually, the abuser will be arraigned in Lancaster County Courtroom Number 22 at 2 p.m. the next business day following the arrest. At that time, the abuser will be brought before a judge and informed of the charge(s) and the possible penalties. The judge will set a bond (the amount of money the abuser must post in order to be released from jail while awaiting trial). In almost every domestic case, the judge will order the abuser not to have any contact with you (referred to as a no-contact bond).
The abuser is not to have any contact with you while the criminal case is pending. This includes, among other things, contact in person, on the phone, by email, or by letter.
There are several, the most important of which is to ensure your safety during the pendency of the case.
Call 911 or report it right away to your local law enforcement agency (Lincoln Police Department or Lancaster County Sheriff's Office) if you believe a crime is occurring or about to occur. In addition, please report it right away to the deputy county attorney assigned to your case (call 402-441-8163 to find out who is assigned to your case).
The deputy county attorney assigned to your case can file a motion to revoke the abuser's bond with the court. If a judge concludes that the abuser violated the no-contact bond, the judge will set a new bond amount. The abuser will then have to remain in jail until trial, unless the abuser is able to post the new, higher bond amount.
A full-time domestic violence paralegal is available to answer any questions either in person or over the phone. Additionally, you may schedule an appointment to speak with the deputy county attorney handling your case. The appointment can be in person or over the phone.
A Protection Order is a Court issues order which directions an individual to have no contact or restricted contact with another individual. Protection Orders can also restrict the individual from being present at a particular location. There are three types of Protection Orders: Harassment Protection Orders, Domestic Abuse Protection Orders, and Sexual Assault Protection Orders. Each have different requirements for issuance and are granted upon a judge's acceptance of the merits of the petitioner's application. Unlike a no-contact order, a violation of a Court issued Protection Order can result in the filing of separate criminal charges for violation of the order.
Please access the following link for information about obtaining a Protection Order: Protection Orders - Lancaster County, NE
Approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to the trial date, you will receive a letter from the County Attorney's Office that will inform you of the date and time of the trial. You will also be served by a Lancaster County Sheriff's deputy with a subpoena, which is a court order requiring you to be in court on that date and at that time.
We suggest that you report early on the day of the trial to the County Attorney's Office on the fourth floor of the courthouse. You can remain in the office until the case is called for trial (many trials are set for the same time in the same courtroom).
Sometimes, the abuser will change his plea to guilty. If that happens, you will not have to go to the courtroom and can simply leave without having to see your abuser. However, if the abuser still wants to have a trial, you will accompany the deputy county attorney to the courtroom, where you will testify. Also present in the courtroom will be the judge, the court reporter, the bailiff, and at least one law enforcement officer. Please let us know your concerns.
If you have concerns regarding your safety, please let us know. Deputies from the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office are available to escort you to your vehicle upon request.
The judge has a couple of options. The judge can either sentence the abuser upon the finding of guilt, or the judge can order the probation office to complete a pre-sentence investigation on your abuser.
A pre-sentence investigation is, essentially, an inquiry into various aspects of your abuser's life. The results are put together in a report and forwarded to the judge to help the judge decide your abuser's sentence. One of the most important parts of the investigation is the victim impact statement. The probation office will send you a form that contains a series of questions. We encourage you to complete the form and/or attach a letter to the judge.
This is your opportunity to communicate to the judge your feelings and thoughts about the case, your abuser, and what you would like to see for a sentence. It is important to complete the form or statement quickly and return it as there are sometimes a very short period between the time the abuser is found guilty and when they are sentenced. If you do not receive a victim impact statement from Probation, please contact our office and we will make sure one is sent to you.
Copies of your victim impact statement are not provided to your abuser, however, his or her attorney is entitled to review the statement to know what information the judge is considering, and will discuss the contents with your abuser. You should always consider your safety first. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the deputy county attorney assigned to your case.
Please inform the office of any changes in address, phone numbers, and/or places of employment. Also, write down exactly what happened so that when it comes to trial you can look back on your notes.
See the “Victim Assistance” section of this website for great resources including links to download an application for a protection order, information about the local agencies that can help you, and information about how to get set up on VINE.
If your address or phone number changes while the case is pending, please make sure that you contact the County Attorney’s Office with that new information to make sure that the County Attorney’s Office, the probation department, etc, has the most current information for you.
If you are afraid of your abuser finding out your new address information, please make sure the paralegal or County Attorney assigned to your case is aware of your concern. There are steps that can be taken to limit the disclosure of that information. Remember, your safety is a prime concern for the County Attorney’s Office and law enforcement.
You may also be able to establish a “substitute mailing address” through the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Address Confidentiality Program. For more information about this program, please call 402-471-3568 or read about the Address Confidentiality Program (Nebraska Secretary of State).