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Understanding Nebraska’s Bail Process

By Jason Bottlinger on April 19, 2021

No one expects to get arrested, and most people are not aware of how the justice system will proceed outside of some loose ideas from TV or movies. While you may be worried about finding an attorney and preparing for a trial, the first step is getting you home to your family so you can get ready for your case. In Nebraska, this means posting bail, but this process can be complex.

What Is Bail?

When someone is arrested in Nebraska, they are taken to a local county jail or police department where they are placed in a cell. Once the arrestee is processed, either the police department or local judge will determine their bail, or the amount of money they need to pay to be released from jail. Bail is essentially a contract between the court and the defendant that requires the defendant to attend all court appearances and hearings. If the defendant does not violate the rules of their release, then the bail money will be returned to them, whether they are found guilty or not guilty.

In some cases, a judge can release a defendant on their “own recognizance,” which means the court trusts the defendant to attend all court appearances on their word of honor. However, this is a rare occurrence.

If a defendant cannot pay bail or the judge denies them bail, then they will have to remain in jail throughout their trial. When a defendant is “out on bail,” they may need to follow certain rules, including remaining under house arrest, attending all court appearances, and following other restrictions – otherwise, they may be placed back in jail.

How Is Bail Set?

With misdemeanor charges, bail is set based on a specific schedule, but judges have the right to release a defendant without bail if the crime is minor. For felonies, the court will schedule a hearing to determine how much bail is necessary. Judges will look at a defendant’s charges, criminal history, status in their local community, and flight risk before setting bail. The main questions the judge will ask is:

  • Is the defendant a danger to others?
  • Will the defendant attend all court appearances?

Based on the assumed answers, the judge will decide how high bail should be. The judge must also consider the defendant’s financial situation and cannot impose an unreasonable amount for bail.

For most non-violent crimes, a defendant only has to pay 10% of bail to be released from jail. For example, if bail is set at $10,000, then the defendant would only have to pay $1,000. If a defendant attends all court appearances, then this money will be returned to them after their trial.

How Do I Pay Bail in Nebraska?

Unlike other states, Nebraska does not have bail bond agencies, meaning a defendant can only pay bail in cash, perhaps with the help of a family member or friend. The process for paying bail can vary from county to county, but most friends or family members can post bail for an inmate at a jail, correctional facility, or district court. Most facilities only accept cash, which means you cannot pay with checks or debit cards.

Here in Douglas County, bail can be paid in cash directly to the Douglas County Department of Corrections at 710 South 17th St., Omaha, NE 68102, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What If a Defendant Violates Bail?

If a defendant violates the rules of bail, such as by missing a court appearance, committing another crime, or associating with other suspects or known criminals, then the police can arrest them and return them to jail. The court may keep them in jail during the rest of their trial and charge them with additional crimes, such as bail jumping. Lastly, the money paid for bail will be considered forfeit, meaning the court will not return it to the person who paid it.

Can a Lawyer Help With Bail?

When you go into a bail hearing in Nebraska, it is important to have a skilled Omaha defense attorney at your side. Your attorney can explain to the judge that you are unlikely to flee the state or country, explain that you have a support system to keep you from committing another crime, or that there is not enough evidence to support the charges against you. Without an attorney, the court will seek the highest possible amount for bail.

At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., we believe in giving each client the chance at a fair defense. From the moment we take on a case, we fight as hard as possible for our clients. Our goal is to get you the best outcome possible, whether that is a complete dismissal of charges or a lesser sentence. The earlier you contact us, the better. We will be your loyal advocate from your bail hearing to the end of your trial. Call us today at (402) 505-8234 to get started on protecting your future.

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