How are Criminal Offenses Are Classified in Mississippi?

How are Criminal Offenses Are Classified in Mississippi?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.

Common examples of misdemeanors include a first-time conviction for driving under the influence, shoplifting, and possession of (very small amounts) of a controlled substance.

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 662-253-5193, or fill out our contact form.

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