Articles Posted in MS Criminal Laws

Have the police ever seized your property? Would you know what to do if they did?

The Mississippi Legislature is back in session and committees are considering new bills. Currently, a new piece of legislation regarding asset forfeiture is being deliberated.  Presently, law enforcement can seize property when there is a probability that the property was used in connection with a crime.

According to The Clarion Ledger, the proposed bill would create:

An officer of the law in Lake County, Indiana, faces the charges of Driving Under the Influence and is the cause of a hit-and-run accident.

The Indiana State Police stated that “Lieutenant Guy Mikulich was in an unmarked police car” while driving on Sunday at 4:48 p.m. when he hit a 34-year-old man who was standing outside by his vehicle on Oak Avenue in Miller Beach.

Officer Mikulich is a 16-year veteran of the sheriff’s department and had been working the Gary Air Show the day of the accident.

Society (potential employers) will all check your background prior to allowing you to  pass on that path of your life that brought you to them. This includes employers, military, and literally everyone in your future involving employment, finance, life insurance, car insurance, credit report, house and vehicle purchases; schools, both primary and college and professional schools. These background checks may be by both law enforcement and private sector data bases. Arrest/ Conviction records are absolute career ending events.

Most folks do not know that once you are arrested it is just like posting something on Facebook©. One, like Facebook, this arrest/conviction information goes everywhere; and two, it can last forever. There are two separate sets of Data Bases that records and stores arrest/conviction records 1) Law Enforcement, and 2) Private Sector Date Bases.  The “Government” data bases discussed here are: 1) the Local Law Enforcement (City, County, State) who’s officers arrested you; 2) the state agency which collects arrest information, from local law enforcement and ours is called: “The Mississippi Criminal Information Center”. All states have such a central criminal information centers who then transmits this arrest information to 3) The National Criminal Information Center, which is a part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These organizations act as depositories of arrest information, in the form of “Rap” sheets. Should you also be convicted, that conviction information will also be added to the arrest information already on file. This arrest/conviction information stays in your file forever, unless and until a court order allows removal.

In addition, some three (3) thousand private data bases around the world will also collect; store; and for a fee, publish, this arrest and conviction information. New private sector data base are being created daily.  Anyone with a computer or a cell phone can access this information with a small credit card payment. It is these private sector data bases that most potential employers, outside of government, turn to for back-ground searches. Almost all pre-employment applications require you to sign documents allowing background searches to divulge this information. Prospective employers hire applicants, in part, based upon background searches.  These employment application forms usually question the prospective employee on: 1) Have you ever been arrest for a crime; 2) Have you ever pled guilty to, or were you found guilty of a crime by a court or jury; 3) Have you ever been granted a deferred sentence after having pled guilty; and 4) Any other wording which will have placed you in the criminal justice process at any time in your life. The presence of an arrest/conviction record disqualifies most job applicants. The only sure records cleaning remedy for having been arrested for a crime is to be found NOT GUILTY and have your records EXPUNGED. Any arrest or conviction record of a crime/ conviction will always affect the rest of your life.

I am a lawyer, and in this post I will point out some of the things a good consumer will do to get the most bang for their buck. All lawyers are not created equal. In this post, I will specifically address criminal defense lawyers.

When choosing a lawyer to defend you of a crime, one probably looks to see how successful the attorney has been in court. Many attorneys have a great “record” which they will boast about every chance they get. However, there are no scoreboards in the field of criminal defense. Moreover, what is a “win” in criminal law? Is a not guilty verdict a win? Of course! Is a case where the attorney negotiates 30 days in jail when the charge carried 5 years of incarceration a win? Sure! “Wins” come in all shapes and sizes and attorneys take advantage of this. Pay less attention to the part where the attorney talks record and more about how they address your case. Billy-Jo’s case isn’t important when it is your case that matters to you.

A good consumer knows what to ask. Ask the attorney if they will be the ones coming to court. Some law firms take the approach that “ringer” sales people will speak to the potential client first, and then stick another attorney on the case later as the need arises. This is potentially a very bad thing as it means your case is not a personal investment with a specific attorney. Typically these actions occur at larger legal factories rather than small law firms.

House Bill 412 contains numerous changes to Mississippi’s DUI laws, and the bill takes effect on October 1, 2014. One of the most significant changes is that it makes nonadjudication available to persons over 21 years of age, something previously unavailable. To learn more about these nonadjudications, please read our more detailed blog here.

Earlier this month the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Salinas v. Texas, 570 U.S. ___ (2013).  Before Salinas was arrested, police asked him a few questions.  In response to one particular question, he remained silent and said nothing; he argued that this was his way of exercising his 5th Amendment right to remain silent.  At trial, however, the prosecutor made reference to his silence, implying his guilty to the jury, and Salinas was obviously convicted.

The Supreme Court held that there was nothing wrong with using Salinas’s silence against him.  In reaching this conclusion, the Court said that there is no right to silence; rather, there is only the right against self-incrimination.  However, the court found that Salinas did not properly invoke his 5th Amendment right and, therefore, his silence was not protected.

For more information, please visit this link.

Here are a few tips when looking for a good defense attorney:

Shop Around – Lawyers use advertising and advertising works but do not be suckered into hiring an attorney just because they have flexible payment plans or a picture of them looking mean.  When looking for a good defense attorney ask your friends and family if they know someone.  If they do, go talk to that attorney.  Also, go talk to the attorney that you saw in the ad.  Bottom line is to go and talk to a few attorneys so you can make an educated decision.

Look for Specialists – No two cases are the same just as no two defense lawyers are the same.  Just because an attorney does criminal defense does not mean he may be the best for your type of criminal case.  Certain areas of criminal law are highly technical and general defense attorneys may not know all the ins and outs of a particular area like DUI.

Prosecutors in Hinds and Rankin counties Justice Courts are accused of concealing information that could prove defendants innocent of alleged crimes.  A lawsuit was filed this April seeking an injunction against Hinds County Prosecutor Sherri Flowers and Rankin County Prosecutor Richard Wilson.  Take a further look at the article:

“The suppression of evidence favorable to persons accused of crimes is intentional on the part of the defendants,” the lawsuit says.  “The defendants have been repeatedly warned and placed on notice that the United States Constitution requires that such evidence not be hidden or suppressed.

Despite these warnings, the defendants have asserted that they simply do not have time to comply with these constitutional requirements.”

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