What Is a Class 3 Felony in Nebraska?
The state of Nebraska has broken up felonies into nine classes, ranging from Class 1 – the most serious crimes – to Class IV. Class III felonies include:
- Forgery – first-degree
- Second-degree assault
- Sexual assault, when an injury is involved
- Using explosives to commit a felony
- Strangulation with a dangerous instrument
- Manufacture or distribution of certain drugs
Maximum and Minimum Sentences
State law sets out a maximum and minimum penalty for all felonies. For Class III felonies, the minimum sentence is 1 year in prison and the maximum sentence is 20 years. The maximum fine is $25,000 and it can be assessed with or without a corresponding prison term. There are, however, situations in Nebraska in which the judge has discretion to stray from the sentencing guidelines.
If a habitual offender is convicted of a second crime, Nebraska law allows for extended sentences. The conviction may be for a previous felony in Nebraska or anywhere else in the country. The sentencing guideline increases to a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison. If the current conviction includes one of nine serious Nebraska felonies – including the Class 3 felony of using explosives to commit a felony, the minimum sentence increases to 25 years while the maximum sentence remains unchanged. Also, a conviction for some crimes in Nebraska automatically qualifies for an extended sentence when the victim was targeted because of his or her sexual orientation, age or disability. These crimes run the gamut from manslaughter and kidnapping to arson. Sexual assault, when an injury is involved, is a Class III felony that is also included. The extended sentencing allows the judge to go to the next higher sentencing guideline level. In addition, any of a number of serious crimes committed against a woman who is pregnant also qualifies for the next higher sentencing guideline level.
Loss of Rights and Benefits
As soon as you are convicted of a Class III felony you will lose the following rights in Nebraska:
- Hold state office
- Own or possess a firearm
- Suspension or revocation of driving privileges for DUI or vehicular homicide
- Work in the home health care field
- Obtain occupational or professional licenses required for some jobs
- Public assistance, including housing, after the conviction of certain drug crimes
The state passed a law in 2005 that automatically restores voting privileges two years after a sentence has been completed, including any parole or probation. The right to own a firearm can only be restored with a pardon from the governor.
Employment and Housing with a Felony Record
State law in Nebraska allows employers and landlords access to a person’s criminal records and applicants are required to truthfully answer if they have ever been arrested or convicted. It is legal to discriminate based on an arrest or conviction in Nebraska; however, getting a job or housing with a felony record can be quite challenging. There is a Work Opportunity Tax Credit available to employers in Nebraska that hire ex-felons. Employers can ask about your criminal history and can also run background checks to determine if you have been in jail. While some state programs encourage employers to hire convicted criminals, it will be difficult to get a job. The same is true of renting; landlords may see a felony conviction and decide not to take the risk that you will be arrested again.
Clearing Your Record
Nebraska has no process to expunge or seal felony conviction records. While the state has a process to “set aside” convictions, that does not apply to felonies. It is possible for a convicted felon in Nebraska to have his or her civil rights restored by receiving a pardon from the Board of Pardons. With a pardon, a person can vote, serve on a jury, hold public office and qualify for certain public health and welfare licenses. Felony offenders must wait 10 years to make application. The Board of Pardons conducts an investigation and votes on every pardon application.
The information contained above is for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice you should visit an attorney.