Are you facing a misdemeanor charge in Mississippi and wondering what your options are for appealing the decision? It's important to understand the process of appealing misdemeanors in the state, as it can be different than the appeals process for more serious crimes.
First, let's define what a misdemeanor is. In Mississippi, a misdemeanor is a petty crime such as DUI, simple assault, most shoplifting, resisting arrest, or possession of a small amount of a controlled substance. These crimes may not result in long jail sentences, but they can have serious consequences such as damaging your job prospects and costing you a lot of money.
In Mississippi, misdemeanors are typically tried in either municipal court or justice court. If the ticket or arrest was made by a local police force, it will be tried in the city's municipal court. On the other hand, if the ticket or arrest was made by a state law enforcement agency or a county sheriff's deputy, the case will be tried in the county's justice court. It's important to note that justice courts and municipal courts in Mississippi are not considered "courts of record," meaning that there is no court reporter present to document everything that is said during the trial. What happens there still goes on your record.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor in justice or municipal court, you have the automatic right to a new trial on appeal. The trial on appeal will be heard in either the county court or the circuit court, depending on the county. If the municipal court or justice court is located in one of Mississippi's 22 counties that have county courts, the appeal will go to the county court for that county. If the county does not have a county court, the appeal will go to circuit court.
It's important to know that when you appeal a misdemeanor conviction from justice or municipal court, the imposition of any sentence, such as jail time or fines, is stayed. This means that you no longer have to serve jail time or pay any fines while your appeal is pending. However, you must file a notice of appeal and pay the cost of appeal bonds within a 30-day window in order to preserve your right to appeal. If you do not start the appeal within this time frame, your right to appeal will be waived forever.
During the appeal process, your case will be tried all over again as if the justice court or municipal court trial never happened. This time, there will be a court reporter present to document everything that is said. Any appeals taken after this trial will be "on the record," meaning that there will not be another opportunity for a new trial unless the judge or judges reviewing the record find that there were mistakes in the appeal trial that need to be corrected.
If you are facing a misdemeanor charge in Mississippi, it's important to speak with an attorney about your options for appeal. An attorney can help you determine whether an appeal is the right course of action for your specific case and guide you through the process. Don't let a misdemeanor conviction ruin your job prospects and cost you a lot of money – consider appealing the decision and getting a fresh start.