Category Archives: Mississippi Criminal Law

An explanation of the many issues arising under Mississippi criminal law, and the defense of persons accused of crimes.

What You Need To Know If Charged With Sale Of Xanax

If you have been charged with Sale of Xanax in Mississippi, here’s what you need to know:

In Mississippi, Sale of Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, is a felony crime.  Mississippi controlled substance law not only makes selling Xanax illegal, but also makes it illegal for a person to “barter, transfer [or] dispense” Xanax.  The penalty for Sale of Xanax in Mississippi is twenty (20) years in prison and a fine of $1,000.00 (minimum) to $250,000.00 (maximum).

It may appear that a Sale of Xanax charge is easy for the State to prove in Mississippi.  However, Mississippi criminal law provides many defenses to persons accused of selling Xanax (far too many for one post).  One of the most overlooked defenses involves whether the State actually has the Xanax that was sold.  Under Mississippi law, absent some very unusual circumstances, the State will be required to introduce the Xanax into evidence at trial.  Don’t assume that the police have the drugs.  Sometimes the evidence will, for whatever reason, get lost or misplaced.

So how do you know whether the State has the pills?  Your lawyer should make an appointment with the prosecutor and police to view this type of evidence.  It usually only takes a few minutes to view the drugs and verify that the State has them.  However, if the prosecutor is unable to locate the drugs, the Sale of Xanax charge will likely be dismissed.  If your lawyer doesn’t verify that the drugs are present, then you may be missing an opportunity to get the case dismissed.

If you are charged with Sale of Xanax or Alprazolam in Mississippi, you need a criminal lawyer who will fight hard to beat your drug charges.  Please contact Mississippi criminal lawyer Curt Crowley for a free case evaluation at 601.898.0685.  You can also visit his Jackson MS criminal lawyer website for more information.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Lawyer Explains False Statements to Obtain Credit Cards

Mississippi criminal law prohibits making false statements to obtain a credit card.  Mississippi Code Section 97-19-11 makes it illegal to “directly or indirectly” makes a “false statement in writing with intent that it be relied upon with respect to his identity or that of any other person, firm or corporation.”

In Mississippi, providing false information to obtain a credit card is a misdemeanor.  If convicted of this crime, a person is facing a sentence of six (6) months in jail and a fine of $1,000.00.

Mississippi limits this statute to false statements regarding identity.  This law was obviously enacted in response to the related crime of identity theft.  Other statements one might falsify on a credit card application, such as income, do not fall under this statute.  However, lying about such other matters to obtain a credit card may be illegal under other state and federal criminal statutes.

There are defenses to the charge of making false statements to obtain credit cards in Mississippi.  If you have been arrested for this crime or other fraud-related offenses, please contact Jackson, Mississippi criminal defense lawyer Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984 to discuss your case.  As always, there is no cost for an initial consultation.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Lawyer Discusses Failure to Report Under Mississippi Criminal Law

Any criminal lawyer in Mississippi will tell you that Mississippi law generally does not require citizens to report crimes or even emergencies to the appropriate authorities.  However, a very narrow exception to this rule exists when it comes to a person who accidentally starts a fire at a church or state-supported school.  Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 97-17-3(2), any person who accidentally starts a fire at a church or school is required to alert appropriate authorities, such as the fire department, to report the fire.

Failure to report a fire under these circumstances is a felony, and has a potential sentence of two (2) years to ten (10) years in prison, and restitution for any property damage as a result of the fire.

This statute does not make it a crime to accidentally start a fire (to qualify as arson in Mississippi the fire must be intentionally set).  This law makes it a crime to fail to report a fire that the person accidentally started.  And again, this law applies only where the building that caught fire was a state-supported school or church.

If you have been charged with a crime relating to arson in Mississippi, please contact Mississippi criminal lawyer Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984.  There is no charge for an initial consultation.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense Lawyer Discusses Possession of Marijuana With Intent to Sell or Distribute

If you’ve been charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana in Mississippi, there are some things you need to know.

Mississippi Code Section 41-29-139 makes it a felony crime to “sell, barter, transfer, manufacture, distribute, dispense or possess with intent to sell barter, transfer, distribute or dispense” marijuana.

The penalties for possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana in Mississippi are severe.  If the amount of marijuana involved is less than 30 grams, the potential sentence is three (3) years in prison, and a $3,000.00 fine.  In the case of a first offender who is charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute more than 30 grams, but less than 1 kilogram or marijuana, the potential sentence is twenty (20) years in prison, and a fine of $30,000.00.  In all other cases, the potential sentence is thirty (30) years in prison, and a fine of $5,000.00 (minimum) to $1,000,000.00 (maximum).

In Mississippi, the State must prove that the accused possessed the marijuana with the intent to sell or distribute.  Intent must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  Sometimes there is direct evidence of intent, such as where a person who has agreed to deliver marijuana to an informant is arrested on the way to make the delivery.  Most cases, however, are based on circumstantial evidence.

Under Mississippi law, the State may try to prove that a person had the intent to sell or distribute by showing that the amount of the marijuana in the person’s possession is proof of intent to sell.  In order to charge and convict a person based upon the amount of marijuana, Mississippi prosecutors must prove that the amount of marijuana in his possession exceeded the amount that would be reasonable for personal use.  Mississippi law states that if the amount of marijuana could just as likely be for personal use, as it was for sell or distribution, then the person cannot be convicted of possession with intent.  The proper charge in such a case would be simple possession of marijuana

In addition to the amount of marijuana, Mississippi law states that the packaging of the marijuana as well as other evidence of drug trafficking may be used to show possession with intent to sell or distribute.

In Mississippi, it is seldom easy for the State to prove possession with intent based upon the weight and packaging of marijuana.  The Mississippi Supreme Court has held that where a defendant was caught with 323.4 grams of marijuana, two (2) scales, a device used to hold marijuana, rolling papers, and $356.00 in cash, there was insufficient evidence of intent to sell or distribute.  The Court stated that the amount of marijuana was within the amount that a person could reasonably use, and that the holding device and rolling papers were consistent with using marijuana, not selling it.  Jowers v. State, 593 So.2d 46 (Miss. 1992).  Instead of possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana, the defendant could only be convicted of simple possession of marijuana.  This is significant, as the penalties for simple possession are much less than those for possession with intent.

If you have been charged with possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana in Mississippi, there are defenses available.  You need a criminal defense lawyer to handle your case and protect your interests.  Please call Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984 for a free consultation.  For more information, please feel free to visit our Mississippi criminal defense website.

Criminal Lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi Explains Arson of a Church or Place of Worship

Mississippi law deals severely with persons who are charged with arson of a church or house of worship.  The Mississippi first-degree arson statutes contain a section that deals specifically with setting fire to a church.

The basic elements of church arson in Mississippi are similar to those for arson of a house or dwelling.  Specifically, in order to prove the charge of arson of a church, the State must show: (1) that the defendant willfully and maliciously, (2) set fire to, or burned, or caused to be burned, or was a party to destruction by explosion from combustible material, (3) a church or other place of worship.  Mississippi arson law also provides that a person may be charged and convicted under the arson statute if he aids, counsels or procures the burning of a church or place of worship.

In addition to the above, under Mississippi arson law, a person can be found guilty of arson of a church regardless of whether the church was in use or vacant.

A person charged with arson of a church in Mississippi faces a potential sentence of five (5) to thirty (30) years in prison, and restitution for any property damaged as a result of the arson.  It is noteworthy that this maximum sentence exceeds the maximum sentence for arson of a dwelling by ten (10) years.

Of all crimes in Mississippi, arson is perhaps the most defensible.  Arson is the type of crime that usually has no witnesses, the case is entirely circumstantial, most physical evidence is destroyed by fire, and arson investigators frequently disagree with one another as to the cause and origin of a fire.  The nature of this crime provides a defense on every front for someone charged with arson in Mississippi.

I am a Mississippi criminal defense lawyer and I’m here to help.  If you’ve been charged with arson of a church or other building, please visit my Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense website for more information, or call 601.944.1984 for a free case evaluation.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Felony Possession of Marijuana

Possession of marijuana is illegal under Mississippi law.  Whether or not possession of marijuana is a felony under Mississippi law depends upon how much marijuana was in the person’s possession at the time they were arrested.

Marijuana is weighed by the gram.  If the amount of marijuana is thirty (30) grams or less, then the charge of possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor in Mississippi.  If the amount of marijuana is more than thirty (30) grams, then the person will be charged with possession of marijuana as a felony in Mississippi.

Mississippi law states that the potential penalty for a charge of possession of marijuana also depends upon the weight of the marijuana.  The weights and potential sentences are as follows:

More than 30 grams, but less than 250 grams:  three (3) years in prison and a $3,000.00 fine;

250 grams, but less than 500 grams: two (2) years to eight (8) years in prison and a $50,000.00 fine;

500 grams, but less than 1 kilogram: four (4) to sixteen (16) years in prison and a $250,000.00 fine;

1 kilogram, but less than 5 kilograms: six (6) to twenty-four (24) years in prison and a $500,000.00 fine;

5 kilograms or more: ten (10) to thirty (30) years in prison and a $1,000,000.00 fine.

If you’ve been charged with possession of marijuana in Mississippi, you need an experienced criminal lawyer to protect your interests.  Possession of marijuana carries stiff penalties under Mississippi law.  If you’ve been charged with possession, please call criminal defense lawyer Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984 for a free case evaluation.  You may also visit our Mississippi criminal defense website for more information.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Lawyer Explains Charge of Arson of a Dwelling House or First-Degree Arson

Charged with arson in Mississippi?  Following are some facts about the crime of arson of a dwelling house (also known as first-degree arson) in Mississippi.

In order to convict a person of arson, the State must show:

(a) that the defendant willfully and maliciously;

(b) set fire to, or caused to be burned, or aided or procured the burning;

(c) of any dwelling house (or state-supported school);

Mississippi Code Section 97-17-1.  Arson of a dwelling house is a felony, and carries a sentence of five (5) to twenty (20) years in prison.

Under Mississippi arson law, a dwelling house includes not only the house itself, but also any kitchen, shop, barn, stable or other structure that is on the same parcel of land with the house.  It does not matter if the house was occupied or vacant at the time the arson was committed.  Either way, it’s still arson under this statute.

The house may be the property of another person or the defendant himself.  In other words, a person can be charged with arson in Mississippi, even if he sets fire to his own property.

In order to prove arson, the State must prove that the fire was set intentionally.  This is usually proven through the use of an arson investigator.  Arson investigators determine whether a fire was intentionally set, by using scientific testing and investigation.

Negligently or accidentally starting a fire is not arson in Mississippi.  The State is not required to prove that the defendant had a motive to commit arson.  However, if the State has evidence of a motive on the part of the defendant, the State can introduce this evidence at trial.  The defendant can then present evidence that he or she had no motive.

In Mississippi, arson is the type of crime that usually does not have any eyewitnesses to the crime or direct evidence linking the suspect to the crime.  The State almost always attempts to prove arson by circumstantial evidence.  Because of this, there are a large number of defenses to available for a person charged with arson.  A few examples of these defenses include:

(a)  The fire was an accident, rather than intentionally set.  The defendant has the right to offer proof through an independent arson investigator that the fire was not intentionally set;

(b) The defendant can show that he had no reason, or motive, to set fire to the property.  This usually occurs when the State alleges that the defendant set fire to the property because of financial difficulties, or where there was bad blood between the defendant and the victim.  Note that the State is not required to prove motive;

(c) The defendant may show that he was somewhere else at the time the fire was started.  This is known as an alibi defense. 

These are but a few of the defenses available to a person charged with arson in Mississippi.  I am a criminal lawyer who handles arson cases in Jackson, Madison, Ridgeland, and all other areas of Mississippi.  If you’ve been charged with arson, please call me at 601.944.1984 to discuss your case.  There is no charge for an initial consultation.