Articles Posted in MS Criminal Laws

Many people do not realize the severity of Mississippi’s stalking laws. You might assume that following an ex-girlfriend around or even bugging her on social media is no big deal. Although no one is actually being “hurt” in these scenarios, you may be breaking the law. Read a few news stories about stalking in Mississippi within the past few years, and you will quickly realize that people who engage in these acts run the very real risk of going to prison. But what exactly happens when you stalk people in Mississippi, and what penalties might you face if you are caught?

Examples of Stalking in Mississippi and Across the United States

The most recent example of stalking came in November of 2022. This situation involved an individual who had allegedly used a dating app to stalk a victim. According to the Oxford Police Department, they had received a complaint from a victim who walked into the department to get help from this alleged stalking. No other information was provided about the incident, although the defendant was promptly arrested and issued a $15,000 bond. This shows that modern “stalking” may not simply involve following someone down the street. It may also involve dating apps, social media, and other digital communication tools without any actual direct contact.

The type of defense that you put forth in your criminal case matters. If your legal arguments are poorly made, or if your representation simply isn’t aggressive enough, you might be at an increased risk of being not only convicted but also being hit with the harshest penalties allowable under the law.

That’s why it’s probably in your best interests to carefully consider the type of legal representation that you want on your side. If you qualify, you can be represented by a public defender, but these attorneys are notoriously overworked, which means that they might not be able to give you the time and attention that you and your case need and deserve.

Why You Should Consider Representation by a Private Attorney

According to an article from the associated press dated December 20, 2022, Harvey Weinstien was found guilty of sexual assault and rape in a Los Angeles court. Weiinstien is also currently serving a sentence for rape in New York. Weinstien was a big time hollywood executive that became the face of the metoo movement due to allegations surrounding his conduct with much younger female actresses. Weinstien’s sentence in New York is for a term of twenty-three years and he could be sentenced for up to twenty-four in California.

While the metoo movement has given way to other headlines in the last couple of years, the effects are still being seen round the country. Seeing people like Ghislane Maxwell, Jeffery Epstien, and Harvey Weinstien in prison are all public reminders of the movement but it goes much deeper than the rich and famous hollywood elites. All over the country the connotation around a sex crime accusation has shifted. While there was always a taboo and shamefulness attached to an alleged sex crime, it seems that in some instances the presumption of innocence has been flipped on its head and the accused is treated as if they are guilty until they prove their innocence. Of course, the criminal justice system is built on the presumption of innocence until an accused is found to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of his peers. Sex related crimes are also delicate because a conviction not only makes you a felon, it marks you as a convicted sex offender for the rest of your life, and may require you to register on the sex offender registry for the rest of your life. All of this in addition to your inability to own a firearm as a felon and difficulty finding employment.

Mentioned above are facts concerning Weinsstien’s sentencing. Sentencing, of course, varies from state to state. Here in Mississippi, the laws are clear and the punishments for sex crimes are severe. Rape, or forcible sexual intercourse, in Mississippi carries life in prison at the discretion of the jury. Should the jury elect not to sentence the convicted offender to life, the statute allows the judge to sentence the offender to any sentence that may be appropriate. The stakes are simply too high in sex crime cases, especially rape, to roll the dice with an inexperienced lawyer.

It’s no surprise that certain crimes spike around the holidays. Increased alcohol consumption, as well as financial and emotional stress, sometimes causes people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do. One example is drinking too much and then driving, or getting into a fight with a loved one, or shoplifting. Unfortunately, a poor decision now can have an impact long after the holidays are over. Here’s a look at a few common holiday crimes that can turn your “Christmas cheer into holiday tears!”

Driving While Intoxicated

During the holiday season, there is no shortage of celebrations and parties. Police often step-up DUI enforcement during this time of year, putting more officers on the roads to ensure the safety of all drivers. Police will be looking for any reason to stop motorists, like simply having a taillight out or failing to use a turn signal.

If you have committed a major crime in Mississippi, you might be wondering whether the court will “take it easy” on you. This is obviously something that all defendants hope for, as no one wants to spend more time in prison than they absolutely have to. But is it true that certain members of the population receive more lenient treatment than others? What about older women? At first, you might assume that almost everyone involved in the legal system would be merciful towards an old woman. But your sentence really depends on your unique circumstances. Some crimes are viewed with such disdain that your gender and your age do not play a role in your sentencing. But what can you do if you face charges in Mississippi?

Examples of Charges Involving Older Women in Mississippi

If you want to know how the legal system in Mississippi deals with older women, you might want to consider a few recent examples. On October 14th of 2022, it was reported that an 80-year-old grandmother in Mississippi has been arrested for possessing meth. She had just two grams when police searched her and discovered the drug in her purse. The elderly individual was immediately charged with possession of a controlled substance and booked into a detention center. At the time of her arrest, the defendant was in a car with her two grandsons. When the drugs were found during a traffic stop, the grandmother admitted that the drugs were hers. However, she might’ve “taken the fall” for her grandsons. In any case, this story illustrates that elderly individuals will still be arrested and charged by police in Mississippi for things like drug possession.

The holiday season is well underway! Decorations are up, stores are crowded with an abundance of shoppers, and holiday parties have commenced. For many, it is a time of happiness and cheer. It’s a time to celebrate and appreciate time with family and friends. For others, the holidays are particularly challenging, bringing up difficult emotions or memories, and increased stress. Whether you are full of holiday spirit or struggling through the season, it is helpful to be aware of some of the top crimes committed during the holiday season:

Shoplifting:

Shoplifting from a retail store is a common crime and it is no surprise that it is even more common during the holidays. Shopping is at a peak during the holiday season. Even with seasonal help, there are frequently not enough employees to be heedful and fully attentive to the holiday crowds. Shoplifters often take advantage of these conditions and rates of theft increase significantly.

Lance O. Mixon of the Carmody Law Office recently completed two series of advanced criminal defense training & continuing legal education (CLE) from the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), totaling over 25 hours of instruction and workshops.  In August, he attended the NACDL’s Annual National Meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida, as the only attorney from the State of Mississippi to be in attendance:

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At this conference, titled You Can’t Win a Plea:  Winning Trial Techniques from the Masters, Lance participated in courses ranging from cutting edge Preliminary Hearing strategies, to breakout groups with exercises in crafting compelling Closing Arguments, and every component of the trial in between, for all types of criminal defense cases.

In November, Lance attended the NACDL’s Annual Defending Sex Crimes Seminar in Las Vegas, Nevada, as 1 of just 3 attorneys from Mississippi, which included associate Thomas Shaw from the Carmody Law Office.

While the ethical aspect of an abortion ban is a subject of much debate, the reality is that it is now against the law in the Magnolia State. This is one of the most notable changes in our state’s legal system within recent memory, and individuals must be aware of what this means going forward. This is especially true if you are a medical professional or anyone who provides medical services to pregnant women. If you choose to ignore these new laws, you face considerable consequences. A conscientious objection to the law is not a viable defense, and the state of Mississippi will show you no mercy. In fact, they will probably attempt to make an example of you in order to send a message to other citizens. But what do you need to know about Mississippi’s new abortion law, and what kind of penalties can you expect?

When is Abortion Legal in Mississippi?

Despite the fact that abortion is now illegal in Mississippi, there are a few exceptions to this rule. First, abortions are legal if they are carried out in order to save the pregnant mother’s life. If you participate in one of these procedures, you will not face criminal consequences as long as you can prove that the abortion was truly a life-saving measure. Secondly, women can get abortions if they were raped. However, they must report the rape to the authorities before getting the abortion. You cannot simply claim that you were raped after the abortion if there is no official documentation of the crime.

Churches are important religious symbols for many Mississippi communities, and seeing a church burn to the ground can be a truly disturbing sight. Unfortunately, churches are also common targets for arsonists. Whether these individuals wish to make political statements or simply engage in mischief, they face serious consequences for these crimes. But will the authorities charge higher penalties compared to the arson of less symbolic buildings, like offices or houses? What are the consequences of burning down a church in Mississippi, and how can you defend yourself if you have been charged with this crime?

Examples of Church Arson in Mississippi

 On November 8th, it was reported that a manhunt was underway for a suspected arsonist who had set fires in two churches near Jackson. In total, the individual set seven fires during a short period of time. One of the churches burned to the ground, and a baseball diamond at Jackson State University was also damaged. Fortunately, no injuries were reported – although one of the church elders was severely traumatized after watching his religious center burn to the ground. The church that was destroyed had just been renovated earlier in the year. Initially, authorities offered a $5,000 reward for anyone with information that led to an arrest.

As any defense lawyer worth their salt will tell you, police officers need a search warrant if they want to enter your home to search your property. If they enter your home anyway without a search warrant, their actions will likely be deemed unconstitutional in court. This means that anything that results from that search cannot be used against you, and any related charges must be dropped. For example, if the police search your home without a warrant and find an unlicensed firearm or a bag of illicit drugs, they cannot press charges related to these alleged offenses.

With all that said, “no-knock warrants” allow police to sidestep this important constitutional protection in some situations. The very concept of a no-knock warrant is highly controversial and a matter of intense debate throughout the nation. Critics not only point out the unconstitutionality of these actions, but they also highlight the fact that innocent people can be harmed or even killed by police officers who enter homes and assault alleged suspects. There have been many past instances where victims have been shot or suffocated after a no-knock warrant.

What makes this situation even more controversial in Mississippi is the fact that many search warrants mysteriously go missing after the fact. As a recent report pointed out, this makes scrutinizing the legitimacy of no-knock warrants much more difficult than it needs to be.

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