County courts handle misdemeanor cases; traffic and municipal ordinance violations; preliminary hearings in felony cases; civil cases; small claims cases; some divorce cases; probate, guardianship, conservatorship, and adoption proceedings; and juvenile matters. In Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy Counties, the separate juvenile courts hear juvenile matters. The district courts have concurrent jurisdiction in misdemeanor cases, but nearly all misdemeanor cases are tried in the county courts.
Preliminary hearings are used in county court to determine whether there is enough evidence to establish probable cause in a felony case. If it appears the crime charged has been committed and there is probable cause to believe that the person charged with committing the crime is responsible, the defendant will be bound over to stand trial in district court.
TYPES OF CASES
Most legal matters filed in Nebraska state courts are classified as being civil or criminal in nature.
Civil cases are disputes between private citizens, corporations, governmental bodies, or other organizations. Civil cases may involve property or personal rights. The following are common examples of civil cases:
- Landlord and Tenant Disputes
- Auto or Personal Accidents
- Breach of Warranty and Consumer Goods
- Contract Disputes
- Professional liability suits
In a civil action, the party bringing the action (plaintiff) must prove his or her case by presenting evidence that is more convincing to the trier of fact (judge or jury) than the evidence of the opposing party (defendant).
Criminal cases are brought by the state against individuals or groups of individuals accused of committing a crime. The state initiates charges because crimes are considered acts against all of society.
The prosecuting attorney files the charge against the accused person (defendant) on behalf of the state (plaintiff). The prosecution must prove to the judge or jury that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.