Crimes are generally categorized as infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies. How a crime is classified affects:
- The length of the prison sentence
- Where a convicted person will spend time in jail or prison
- The amount of the fines, penalties, and fees
- Which court and which judge hears the case
Minor offenses (infractions) such as traffic violations usually don’t result in jail time. A police officer or government official may be present evidence at the infraction hearing for a minor offense. A government prosecutor normally doesn’t appear at the infraction hearing.
Misdemeanors versus felonies
Misdemeanors are less serious crimes. They are less serious because:
- The Mississippi legislature has decided that they don’t endanger the pubic safety as much as felonies do.
- Convictions usually result in a defendant being confined to a county jail instead of a state prison
- The possible jail time is less than one year.
- The fines are $1,000 or less.
Felonies are crimes that threaten a person’s safety or the safety of the public. They also include white-collar crimes and fraudulent schemes. Felony convictions:
- Can mean the defendant spends more than a year in jail – usually in a state prison
- Carry fines of more than $1,000
- Can mean the suspension of the right to vote or to serve in the military
- Can result in life imprisonment or the death penalty in the most serious cases.
Felonies include murder, arson, robbery, rape, crimes where a weapon is used, and other crimes identified in the Mississippi criminal statutes. A defendant who is convicted of a second or subsequent misdemeanor may be charged with a felony depending on the specific crime.
In both misdemeanor and felony cases, the defendant will:
- Need a criminal defense to represent them
- Will be prosecuted by a government lawyer
- Be entitled to a trial by a jury of his/her peers
Criminal defense lawyers work to have the charges against you dismissed. If the charges can’t be dismissed, often we will work to reduce the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor or from a misdemeanor to a minor infraction.
Whether you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor a felony, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. You do have Constitutional and legal rights. You are entitled to present a defense. At Taylor Jones Taylor, we provide strong advocacy for clients in Olive Branch, Hernando, Southaven, and surrounding areas. To make an appointment, please phone 662-342-1300, or fill out our contact form.