Mississippi categorizes crimes into felonies and misdemeanors. A misdemeanor is a less serious crime than a felony and punishable by up to a year in jail. Felonies are punishable by at least one year in prison. Misdemeanor crimes are distinguished from felonies by the seriousness of injury caused to another person, the cash value of property taken, or the amount of drugs in a person’s possession and whether there is proof of intent to sell or distribute the drugs. Mississippi does not classify its misdemeanor crimes into separate classes.
For information on felonies, see Mississippi Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Misdemeanor crimes in Mississippi include:
The statute governing each misdemeanor in Mississippi provides the sentence for the crime. Most misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail or a fine between $100 and $500, or both, or by up to one year in jail or a fine up to $1,000, or both. For some crimes, the fines can be higher – as much as $5,000.
Mississippi law requires that a criminal prosecution begin within a certain amount of time after a crime is committed or believed to have been committed. This criminal statute of limitations limits the length of time the state can wait before filing charges against a person. The time limit in Mississippi for misdemeanors is usually two years. For more information on the criminal statute of limitations, see Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Mississippi.
A conviction for a misdemeanor crime in Mississippi can become part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for even a minor crime can hurt you when you are looking for a job, applying to rent a house or apartment, or applying for a professional license. A person convicted of misdemeanor possession of an illegal substance – even a tiny amount for personal use only – can be barred from ever receiving federal financial aid for students.
An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, or represent you at trial. Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.