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Omaha Criminal Defense Blog

Police cannot draw blood without consent

One of the news stories to capture national attention this month took place in Salt Lake City, where police arrested a nurse for refusing a blood draw from an unconscious patient. The nurse was following hospital rules to protect patient privacy. The detective on the scene arrested her for obstruction.

In addition to the hospital’s rules, the United States Supreme Court made a similar ruling last year regarding consent for blood draws. In short, it says that a blood draw is intrusive of personal rights in a way that an alcohol breath test is not.

Questions arise in DUI blood draws

Nebraska residents know that an arrest for suspected driving under the influence can lead to serious penalties for people who are ultimately convicted of these types of charges. However, it is also important to be aware of some of the changes to the laws regarding the investigation process for drunk driving.

In the past, law enforcement officers could charge drivers who were believed to possibly be intoxicated with additional crimes if they did not voluntarily provide blood samples. Last year, however, the United States Supreme Court stopped all of that with a ruling that said warrants were required before blood samples could be obtained. The lack of a warrant was determined to be unconstitutional and a violation of the person's rights.

False drug test lands man in prison for drywall powder

Few life events sting like a wrongful arrest. That feeling of accusation cuts deep, knowing that other people won't look at you the same way. It hurts more than your feelings. It damages your reputation, your relationships and your career.

Allegations have serious consequences.

State sued for humanitarian crisis in prisons

Nebraska residents who may have been arrested and charged with a crime or their loved ones have many things to be concerned about. While certainly understanding the defense process and the potential penalties that may be associated with their charges, there are potentially other problems that they might not think of. If they are eventually sentenced to some time in jail, people should be aware that there are known problems in many of the state's prison facilities.

For some time now, reports suggest that the Nebraksa prison system has had far more inmates in it than it should have per its stated capacity limits. That, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, is only one of many problems that plagues the system and puts prisoners on the front line of what it is calling a humanitarian crisis. The problem has gotten so bad that the ACLU recently filed a class-action lawsuit against two state agencies and three individuals.

Search warrants in Nebraska

Have you had your car, home or other belongings searched by law enforcement officers in Nebraska? Maybe you have even had your person searched by a police officer or other authority. Understanding your rights in these situations is important because there are both state and federal laws in place that are designed to protect you and your right to privacy.

As explained by the Nebraska Legislature, both the State Constitution and the United States Constitution provides the right for you to be secure against unlawful or unreasonable searches or seizure of property by law enforcement officials. If a search warrant is in place, it must provide details as to exactly what or who is to be searched. The warrant must also have been sworn to by an appropriate person.

Consent and the reasonable expectation of privacy

Nebraskans have the right to be free from warrantless searches and seizures by government officials when they have a "reasonable expectation of privacy."  According to article I, section 7, of the Nebraska State Constitution, persons are afforded protection from "unreasonable searches and seizures" by the government just as they are protected under federal Constitutional law. A search or seizure is unreasonable if it cannot be justified when the law is applied to the factual circumstances surrounding the event.

Generally, the police are required to obtain a warrant if they wish to search private property. Whether the place to be searched is private under the law law is determined, in part, by whether a personal actually believes the place private. This is not the end of the inquiry, however. Once established, a person's expectation of privacy must be reasonable as measured by society's expectations. This means that society must be "prepared to recognize" a person's actual expectation of privacy as "acceptable."

Student athletes face drug offenses

If a person from Nebraska has experienced a criminal arrest, they can understandably be nervous about the eventual outcome of the incident. If an arrest takes place in another state, there can be even more concerns as some laws may be different from those in Nebraska. Two college football players from the University of Nebraska have been in this type of situation for the past few months.

In the spring, the two students and athletes were in Florida. An officer stopped the vehicle they were in. Reports indicate that the law enforcement official found two packs with pot in them and the players admitted that the backpacks were theirs. Both men were arrested and charged with drug crimes. One of the men is currently slated to appear in court for his charges that involve possession of not only marijuana but also pot paraphernalia later this summer.

What is the one-leg stand test?

When a person in Nebraska is stopped by a police officer, sheriff or other member of a law enforcement entity, there exists the potential that the officer may investigate them for suspected driving under the influence. Many things may make this line of questioning possible such as the presence of alcohol on a person's breath. When this sequence of investigation is initiated, three different field sobriety tests that are standardized for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may be used. One of these is the one-leg stand test.

As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, none of the tests approved for use by the NHTSA are completely foolproof as they all have some measure of error. The one-leg stand test is said to have an accuracy rate of only 65 percent. In this test, the officer is required to first provide a demonstration with clear instructions before asking you to perform the test yourself. Once you indicate you understand what to do, the performance portion of the test may begin.

Defining consent in Nebraska

Upon hearing of accusations of sexual assault in Omaha, many may automatically assume that such offenses are perpetrated by deviants targeting random victims. In reality, however, rape and other sex crimes are often considered to be much more intimate. Data shared by DisasterCenter.com shows that as recently as 2015, there were 652 documented cases of rape in Nebraska alone. In many of those cases, the alleged victims likely knew their attackers. Those labeled as their attackers, however, may have not realized that the potential of their being accused of such a crime was present at all. They might have even reasonably believed that the encounters that led to them being charged were consensual.

 

Bi-partisan bill to end bail in Senate

Those who have been arrested in Nebraska may understand the financial toll a bail bond can take. Two U.S. senators are attempting to end the practice that they say is unfairly jailing people for being poor.

According to the New York Times, Senators Kamala Harris (D. CA) and Rand Paul (R. KY) are proposing a measure that would end bail and determine detainment on other risk factors. Their bill would give grant money to local jurisdictions to fund the necessary pre-trial detainment of some defendants while preventing the majority of defendants from being held before their trials. Some defendants are held in jail for months or years awaiting trial because they cannot pay, and then they are found innocent. Even a few days behind bars can cause someone to lose their job. Since bail amounts are sometimes outsized for the crime and black men have their bail set 35 percent higher than white men for similar crimes, which has convinced the senators that reforming the system is of the utmost importance. 

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Success Stories

  • Defendant was charged with sexual assault of a minor. At the deposition of the alleged victim, our firm got the alleged victim to confess that she made the whole thing up. Charges were dropped against our client.
  • Defendant was charged with possessing a large quantity of marijuana. Following a complete investigation by our firm, the State agreed to dismiss all charges against our client.
  • Defendant was charged with embezzling more than $300,000.00, from a previous employer. At the deposition of the alleged victim, our firm highlighted a number of inconsistencies and questionable statements. The State agreed to dismiss all charges against our client.
  • Defendant was charged with child abuse resulting in death. Following the investigation of our firm, depositions of key witnesses and presentation of our findings to the prosecutor, the State agreed to dismiss the charges against our client.
  • Defendant was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. The matter proceeded to trial and the jury found our client Not Guilty.

What Our Clients Say About Us

  • “Jim, Thank you for all of your help over the past couple weeks. I cannot emphasize enough how much better I have felt after receiving your help. Keeping my record clean as possible means a lot to me and I couldn’t have done it without you, thank you!” -TP
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