Is charge stacking legal in Nebraska?

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Being charged with a crime can be quite stressful and overwhelming. When faced with multiple charges stemming from a single incident, you might wonder, is this legal?

In Nebraska, prosecutors have the discretion to file multiple charges against a defendant for their actions. But is there a limit? Familiarizing yourself with the legality of charge stacking can help you understand what this reality might mean for you.

What is charge stacking?

Charge stacking refers to the practice of bringing multiple criminal charges against a defendant for what is essentially the same underlying conduct. Prosecutors may employ this tactic for various reasons, such as:

  • Increasing the pressure on a defendant to plead guilty
  • Working towards ensuring a conviction on at least one charge
  • Reflecting the severity of the defendant’s actions

For instance, imagine a situation where someone steals and damages a car. The prosecutor could potentially charge them with theft, unauthorized motor vehicle use and criminal mischief.

The legality of charge stacking

Charge stacking legality hinges on whether the charges are truly separate offenses or simply variations of the same crime. Nebraska courts use a two-part test to determine this:

  1. Do the charges stem from the same criminal statute, or are they violations of different laws?
  2. Do all the charges arise from a single act or series of closely related acts?

If the answer to both questions is yes, the charges are likely considered multiplicities, and one or more charges may be dismissed. However, suppose the charges involve separate victims or property or have distinct elements that need to be proven. In that case, they might be considered valid even if they arise from the same incident.

Charge stacking is a complex legal issue. While prosecutors have the authority to file multiple charges against an individual related to the same broad concern, the state’s law prevents them from essentially punishing someone multiple times for the same act. Understanding your rights and seeking legal counsel is key to navigating the complexities of charge stacking and working towards helping ensure a fair outcome in your case.