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.

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Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains What You Need To Know If Charged With Possession Of Stolen Property

If you’re charged with possession of or receiving stolen property in Mississippi, here are some things you need to know.  

A person is guilty of possession of stolen property or receiving stolen property under Mississippi law if he intentionally possesses, receives, retains or disposes of stolen property.  Mississippi law requires that a person charged with receiving or possession of stolen property either (1) know that the property is stolen, or (2) have reasonable grounds to believe that the property is stolen. 

Under Mississippi law, the standard for deciding whether a person should have known the property was stolen is whether the accused received the stolen property under circumstances that reasonable men would believe the property was stolen.  The State sometimes tries to prove this by showing that the accused person paid a lot less for the property than the property was worth.  For example, if a person buys a Glock pistol for $50.00, when the fair market value is $500.00, then he obviously should know that it is stolen.  In such a case, the person would likely be found guilty of possession or receiving stolen property in Mississippi.

Whether possession of stolen property is a felony or a misdemeanor in Mississippi depends on the value of the property.  If the property has a value of $500.00 or less, then it is a misdemeanor which carries a sentence of six (6) months in the county jail.  If the stolen property has a value of more than $500.00, then it is a felony, with a potential sentence of ten (10) years in prison and a fine of $10,000.00.

There are defenses to the charge of possession or receiving stolen property in Mississippi.  These cases are easiest to defend where the State tries to prove that the defendant paid so much less for the property than it was worth, that he should have known it was stolen.  As an example, I once had a client who purchased a stolen vehicle for $750.00 from another individual (my client did not know it was stolen).  The Blue Book value of the vehicle was around $6,000.00.  However, when my client bought the car, the engine was knocking and leaking oil, and the transmission needed to be replaced.  Under those circumstances, my client likely overpaid for the car.  After presenting those facts to the prosecutor, the State dismissed the possession of stolen property charge against my client.

If you have been charged with possession of stolen property or receiving stolen property, don’t assume you are guilty.  Please contact Jackson, Mississippi criminal defense attorney Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984 for a free case evaluation.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense Lawyer Discusses Trespassing Charges

Mississippi criminal law makes trespassing illegal.  A person can be charged with trespassing in Mississippi when he “willfully or maliciously” trespasses upon the property of another person.  Trespassing is a misdemeanor, and carries a potential sentence of up to six (6) months in jail and a $500.00 fine.

Mississippi law further makes trespassing upon “enclosed land” a crime.  To be charged with trespassing in Mississippi under the enclosed land statute, the accused must have entered the land without the owner’s consent, and after being warned not to enter the property.  This warning can be either by personal notice from the landowner, or by “POSTED” signs.  Under a separate statute, Mississippi criminal law makes it illegal to deface, remove, alter or destroy “POSTED” signs, even if the accused did not actually trespass on the land.

Even where a person has the owner’s consent to enter property, he can be charged with trespassing if he does not leave when the owner of the property requests that he do so.

There are defenses to trespassing.  For example, if a person reasonably believes that he is on his own property, and mistakenly trespasses on the property of another, then he is not guilty of trespassing.  This most often arises when a person is in the woods or pasture land and goes onto someone else’s land by mistake.

If you have been charged with a crime in Mississippi, please contact us to discuss your options.  You can call Mississippi criminal defense lawyer Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984 for a free consultation.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Lawyer Tells What You Need To Know If Charged With Malicious Mischief In Mississippi

If you’ve been charged with malicious mischief in Mississippi, here’s what you need to know.

The charge of malicious mischief can be either a felony or misdemeanor in Mississippi.  The easiest way to describe the crime of malicious mischief is to say that it is the act of intentionally destroying someone else’s property.  Mississippi criminal law states that a person can be charged with malicious mischief if he intentionally destroys, disfigures, or injures any real or personal property of another person.

If the property destroyed was worth $500.00 or less, then it is a misdemeanor which carries a sentence of twelve (12) months in the county jail, and a fine of $1,000.00.  Where the property destroyed was worth more than $500.00, malicious mischief is a felony in Mississippi, and carries a sentence of five (5) years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine.

The value of the property is considered to be the cost to repair or replace the damaged property.

There are defenses available to a charge of malicious mischief.  If you’ve been charged with a crime, please contact us at 601.944.1984, for a complimentary case evaluation.  For more information, you can also visit our Jackson, MS criminal lawyer website.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense Lawyer Discusses Cyberstalking

If you are charged with cyberstalking in Mississippi, you need a lawyer.  Why?  Keep reading and you will understand.

Cyberstalking is illegal in Mississippi.  A person can be charged with cyberstalking if he or she:

(a) uses email or other electronic communication which threatens to inflict bodily harm to another person, or to another person’s family, or to damage another person’s property, for the purpose of extortion;

(b) repeatedly uses email to communicate with another person to threaten, terrify or harass that person;

(c) emails another person to make a false statement concerning death, injury, illness, indecent conduct or criminal conduct of the person emailed or of that person’s family, with the intent to threaten, terrify or harass; and

(d) knowingly allows an electronic device to be used by another person to do any of the above.

See Miss. Code. Ann. Section 97-45-15.

Cyberstalking in Mississippi carries a potential sentence of two (2) years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine.  That sentence increases to five (5) years and a $10,000.00 fine if the crime was committed (a) while there was a restraining order in place, (b) where the crime was committed in violation of a condition of release on bond, probation or parole, (c) where the crime results in a “credible threat” being communicated to the victim or the victim’s family, or (d) where the defendant has been previously convicted of cyberstalking in Mississippi, any other state, or under federal law.

Mississippi cyberstalking law is so broad that it seems difficult to draw a hard line between what is acceptable communications, and what is illegal as cyberstalking.  The statute raises questions such as:  How many emails is enough to be “repeated?”  Was the defendant’s intent to harass?  Was the communication within the message false?  And many others.

If you are charged with cyberstalking in Mississippi, it’s a felony.  You need a criminal lawyer who will fight hard to beat your cyberstalking charge.  Curt Crowley is a criminal lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi.  Curt and his criminal defense team are here to help, and you are invited to call him at 601.944.1984 for a free case evaluation.  You can also visit his Jackson MS criminal lawyer website for more information.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense Lawyer Tells What You Need To Know If Charged With Sale of Methamphetamine Or Possession With Intent to Distribute

If you have been arrested and charged with sale of methamphetamine, or possession with intent to sell, distribute or transfer meth in Mississippi, there are some things you need to know.

(1) It is illegal in Mississippi to sell, transfer, manufacture or distribute methamphetamine;

(2) It is also illegal to possess methamphetamine with the intent to sell, transfer, manufacture or distribute to another person;

(3) Regardless of whether you are charged with possession with intent, or the actual sale of methamphetamine, the penalties are the same;

(4) If you are charged with possession with intent, or the sale or transfer of methamphetamine, you face a potential sentence of thirty (30) years in prison and a fine of $1,000,000.00;

(5) Even though you may think you are guilty, there are many defenses to possession of meth, and the State’s case is seldom as strong as you think;

(6) If the charge is possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, deliver, etc., the amount of meth in your possession may require that the charge be reduced to simple possession of meth.  This will greatly reduce the potential maximum sentence you face.

I’m a criminal lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi, and represent people charged with possession with intent to sell methamphetamine and other drugs and controlled substances.  If you have been charged with sale of methamphetamine or other controlled substances, please contact us at our Jackson, Mississippi criminal defense website for a free case evaluation.

Jackson, Mississippi Criminal Defense Lawyer Discusses Possession of Methamphetamine Charges

Charged with possession of meth in Mississippi?  Here are some facts you need to know:

Law enforcement in Mississippi considers methamphetamine (“meth”) to be an epidemic in this State.  Naturally, as law enforcement has focused more attention on meth cases, the number of people charged with possession of methamphetamine has sharply increased.

Possession of meth is illegal under Mississippi criminal law.  Pursuant to Mississippi Code Section 41-29-139, “it is unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally to possess [methamphetamine].”

Potential penalties for possession of meth depend on the amount of the drug in the defendant’s possession at the time of his arrest.  Following are the amounts and penalties for possession of methamphetamine:

Less than 0.1 gram: 1 to 4 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine;

0.1 gram, but less than 2 grams: 2 to 8 years in prison and a $50,000.00 fine;

2 grams, but less than 10 grams: 4 to 16 years, and a $250,000.00 fine;

10 grams, but less than 30 grams: 6 to 24 years in prison and a $500,000.00 fine;

30 grams or more: 10 to 30 years in prison, and a $1,000,000.00 fine.

Mississippi law carries severe penalties for possession of methamphetamine.  If you have been charged with possession of meth, please contact Jackson, Mississippi criminal defense lawyer Curt Crowley at 601.944.1984, for a free consultation.