A class IV felony can involve up to 5 years of prison and this kind of a charge can proceed along civil and criminal lines. A complainant need not choose which way he wants to go. So what I'm saying is that this defendant having paid the debt doesn't mean he can't also be punished for having committed the felony in the first place. With that in mind, if the defendant is going forward on this without representation
, he is doing himself a disservice.
Typically, (though it's not by any means a given) if the defendant is interested in a plea on a first offense charge of this sort, the prosecutor will offer one involving probation
. For that matter, if he won't, since there is no minimum jail requirement on a Class IV felony, the judge can offer that too, on a plea to the charges. If this is a first arrest and what the defendant wants is a guarantee of no jail time, then he'll probably get it.
However, there is more to consider than just probation, because unless there is some possiblity of a deferred adjudictaion he will walk away from this with a criminal record. A deferral -- a special form of probation in which the defendant pleads guilty or no contest and then completes probation which may have special conditions such as fines, classes or counseling and community service along with the rest of it - is an opportunity to work off your conviction by complying with the special conditions and all other aspects of probation. At the end of it all, if he completes it, the conviction is dismissed.
Nebraska does offer deferred adjudications
, but whether it would be likely under the facts and circumstances in this case would be something that the prosecutor would have to determine and nothing I can guess at here. However, if it has to be fought for and negotiated, a lawyer would have a better opportunity of getting it for his client than a defendant would be able to get it for himself.
Edited by FranL on 2/23/2011 at 11:30 PM EST