The County Attorney prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of the State of Nebraska in and for Keith County. The basic procedure is as follows:
1. An individual violates the laws of the State of Nebraska.
2. The violator is arrested and taken to jail or is given a citation (ticket) by law enforcement.
3. If the citation allows a waiver, the violator may plead guilty and pay the fine and court costs without appearing in before the Judge.
4. If the violator is not allowed a waiver, and the offense is a misdemeanor in nature, the citation will have an arraignment date for the violator to appear in Court. There are numerous options available at the arraignment: The Defendant can request an attorney or plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If the violation is a misdemeanor it remains in the County Court system.
5. If the violation is a felony, it is first heard in County Court. The County Court Judge determines if the State has presented sufficient evidence to bind the case over to the District Court for trial by Judge or Jury.
6. The County Attorney or a Deputy is selected to prosecute any given case. He or she examines all the written, photographic, or physical evidence that law enforcement officers and their witnesses have provided.
7. In Criminal Court the violator is called a Defendant. If the Defendant so chooses they may hire their own attorney, or if the offense is one seeking jail time, the Defendant may file paperwork with County Court and the Judge will determine the Defendant’s eligibility for appointed counsel.
8. If a case is set for a jury trial, in County Court a jury of six is selected and in District Court a jury of twelve is selected.
9. If the Defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty by a jury, the sentencing occurs after a pre-sentence investigation is completed.