It is exceedingly common for sexual assault cases to go to jury trial in
Nebraska. There are three major reasons why:
1. The consequences of a sexual assault conviction are severe and life altering.
2. Sexual assault cases often have greater odds of success at trial than
other criminal cases.
3. False sexual assault allegations.
Sexual assault allegations can permanently affect a person’s reputation
and future. There are few labels worse than “rapist” or “sexual
predator.” Many of the accused are willing to go to jury trial in
hopes of saving their personal and professional reputations and relationships.
Hiring a criminal defense attorney and fighting the case every inch of
the way is the only option these people will consider. They see a jury
trial or dismissal as the only way to restore their reputations. To them,
consequences of conviction are irrelevant because they feel the destruction
of their reputation is far more damaging that what a judge can do to them.
However, even if reputation is not a criminal defendant’s top concern
there are still several reasons to take a sexual assault case to trial.
A person charged with sexual assault faces the possibility of lengthy incarceration
and registering as a sex offender. In more severe cases, a person charged
with sexual assault may also face the possibility of civil commitment.
Considering these consequences, most of our clients would rather fight
than work out a plea agreement making them a sex offender or convicted
felon or requiring them to spend a lot of time in prison.
On occasion, we have been able to secure favorable plea agreements for
our clients, allowing them to avoid sex offender registration, felony
convictions, or prison sentences. In some counties in Nebraska, if a prosecutor
recommends a sentence of probation, the judge will likely follow the sentencing
recommendation. In Lancaster County, prosecutors will not agree to sentencing
recommendations. The lack of certainty at sentencing is usually a big
road block for a plea agreement. No one wants to make a deal where the
end result is unknown, especially if it carries the possibility of a 50
In many sexual assault cases, the issue is not one of brutal forced penetration,
but instead whether there was valid consent. This is the date rape allegation:
a he-said-she-said situation in which the alleged victim claims to have
been too intoxicated to consent. And even though both the accused and
the alleged victim consumed a large amount of alcohol that night, the
accused is held responsible for his or her actions while the other party
is not. Unfortunately, when the public sees a person as a registered sex
offender, the image that comes to mind is an evil, calculating, brutal
rapist who intentionally harmed someone. In reality, sometimes the sexual
assault case was about a dispute as to whether one intoxicated individual
was sober enough to give valid consent to another.
Sexual assault cases are winnable. Unlike many DUI and drug cases in which
the primary witnesses are cops, most witnesses called to the stand during
sexual assault cases are unprofessional and unpaid. That’s right
- cops are professional witnesses. They are on duty and paid when they
take the witness stand. Police officers may appear on the stand hundreds
if not thousands of times during their careers, so they are often good
at testifying. Juries tend to put a lot of weight on an officer’s
testimony because juries tend to think police officers have no motive
to lie and have no interest in the outcome of a case.
Sexual assault cases are unique among criminal cases because both the accused
and the victim usually have little experience testifying. A lawyers cross-examination
skills can effectively expose a false sexual assault allegation. A good
investigation or deposition of an alleged victim may reveal truths about
the case not found during the police investigation and raise reasonable doubt.
Finally, false sexual assault allegations happen. The first question a
Berry Law Firm criminal defense attorney asks his clients in a sexual
assault case is, “Why would the alleged victim lie about this?”
Sometimes the issue is the jealously of a jilted boyfriend or girlfriend.
Sometimes it’s part of a shakedown to get money. Other times someone
is cheating on a significant other and uses the allegation to cover up
a consensual relationship. While some false sexual assault allegations
fall apart during an investigation, others do not fall apart until jury trial.
If you or a loved one has been accused of a sexual or domestic assault
and need(s) legal counsel, call
402-466-8444 to speak with a member of our team.