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Notes on DeSoto County Justice Court

DESOTO COUNTY JUSTICE COURT, MISSISSIPPI

  • located at 8525 Hwy 51, Southaven, Mississippi 38671
  • court of limited criminal jurisdiction meaning it can hear some minor criminal cases but not all criminal cases such as felonies
  • court may hear criminal cases where the maximum penalty is a fine and county jail sentence of less than one year
  • traffic and misdemeanor criminal cases allegedly committed in DeSoto County, not in the city limits of a local municipality, are heard in DeSoto County Justice Court
  • Justice Court Judges may conduct bond hearings and preliminary hearings in felony criminal cases
  • eviction proceedings and replevin actions for DeSoto County occur in this court
  • appeals from this Court, other than for felony criminal matters, are heard by the DeSoto County Court
  • Justice Court Judges may sign search warrant orders
  • civil court for resolution of small claim civil disputes with a maximum court award of $3500.00
  • the Justice Court Judges are elected officials
  • Justice Court judges serve on 4 year terms
  • DeSoto County has 5 Justice Court Judges

 

15 Tips for a Better Lawyer-Client Relationship

  1. Make sure you communicate your expectations or goals with your lawyer prior to hiring the lawyer.
  2. Pay your lawyer as agreed.
  3. Make sure you keep your lawyer’s office informed of your current address, telephone and email at all times and the best and quickest method to reach you.
  4. Be sure you are familiar with the complaint or conflict resolution process within your lawyer’s office.
  5. Tell your lawyer the truth so that a more accurate analysis can be made regarding your case and to prevent your lawyer from be caught off guard with the truth.
  6. Be sure to listen to both the good and especially the bad aspects or risks of your case.
  7. Communicate updates with your lawyer promptly.
  8. Tell your lawyer all the facts, both good and bad. Some details you may perceive as “bad” may be easily managed to help your case.
  9. Keep your appointments or at least reschedule with ample notice to the lawyer’s office.
  10. Ask questions if you don’t understand.
  11. Don’t harass or call repeatedly to your lawyer’s office, especially about small matters.
  12. Avoid getting into arguments with the lawyer’s staff or talking negatively about the lawyer with his or her staff.
  13. Don’t sign any papers until you understand what you are signing and why.
  14. Avoid calls after normal business hours, weekends and holidays and while you are intoxicated.
  15. Be the primary or only person your lawyer speaks to; don’t allow family members or loved ones to try to control or dominate your lawyer-client relationship.

Exposure to Contagious Diseases

Mississippi Code §97-27-14 passed in 2017 allows for felony criminal prosecution for knowingly exposing another person to a contagious disease such as HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.

A person being prosecuted under this statute may raise as a defense to avoid conviction that the alleged victim had prior knowledge of the defendant’s disease and or that the alleged victim consented to the exposure to a known contagious disease.

Endangerment by Bodily Substance in Corrections Setting  A subsection of this same statute allows for the criminal prosecution in a corrections setting of a person that attempts to cause or knowingly causes a corrections employee, a visitor or another prisoner to come into contact with blood, semen, urine, feces or saliva.  The severity of penalties for Endangerment by Bodily Substances in a Corrections setting are as follows

  • Misdemeanor unless person violating section knows he or she is infected with HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C
  • Felony if person violating section knows he or she is infected with HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C

FELONY CONVICTION

  • if convicted SHALL be imprisoned for NOT LESS THAN 3 years
  • if convicted SHALL be imprisoned for NOT MORE THAN 10 years
  • if convicted, fine of NOT MORE THAN $10,000.00
  • OR BOTH jail and fine as stated above

MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION

  • if convicted, then SHALL  be jailed in county jail for up to 1 year AND
  • may be fined $1,000.00
  • OR BOTH jail and fine as stated above

*This statute can be used in addition to other basis for prosecution

 

Notes on DeSoto County Circuit Court

DESOTO COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, MISSISSIPPI

  • located at 2535 Hwy 51 South, Hernando, Mississippi 38632, DeSoto County Courthouse in Hernando, Mississippi
  • you will have to go through metal detectors to enter the DeSoto County Courthouse and will be asked to leave your phone in your vehicle
  • Original jurisdiction over all civil lawsuits where the amount in controversy is more than $200,000
  • felony matters
  • DeSoto County, Mississippi criminal law matters that do not fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of another local court
  • appeals from DeSoto County Court, DeSoto County Justice Court, DeSoto County Municipal Court, administrative boards and commissions
  • Jury trial possible
  • DeSoto County has 3 Circuit Court Judges serving our County which is determined by the population and number of circuit court cases filed
  • cases are appealed to Mississippi Supreme Court but can be assigned to Mississippi Court of Appeals by the Mississippi Supreme Court
  • Drug Court is supervised by a local Circuit Court Judge

 

CALLED TO TESTIFY IN COURT

VOLUNTARY WITNESS  A voluntary witness shows up at the request of an interested party to the case such as a victim, plaintiff, defendant or an attorney working on the case.

SUBPOENAED WITNESS  A witness who has been served or formally received a subpoena or court order to appear in Court.  If you receive a subpoena, you should read the subpoena carefully and call the clerk of the Court if you have any questions.  You should appear in court on the date and time indicated on the subpoena or risk penalties from the court.  If you cannot testify on the date subpoenaed, then you should notify the Court Clerk as soon as possible to discuss.

TIPS FOR TESTIFYING

  • Tell the TRUTH or risk going to jail for perjury
  • Answer ONLY the question asked
  • If you don’t understand the question, ask for the question to be clarified or repeated
  • If you don’t know the answer to a question, then say “I don’t know”.
  • try to keep control of your emotions while testifying, if possible
  • don’t take it personal if an attorney questioning you seems to imply that you are dishonest or tries to start an argument with you
  • Do not give your opinion or start guessing unless the Judge asks for your opinion
  • avoid rambling sentences, stop talking when you realize you are no longer answering the question asked
  • shorter answers are better
  • SPEAK LOUD ENOUGH AND CLEAR ENOUGH for the judge, attorneys and court reporter, if present to hear you
  • avoid use of body language if a court reporter is recording the court hearing
  • if attorney states “objection”, stop talking until the judge says to continue testifying

Notes on DeSoto County Municipal Courts

DESOTO MUNICIPAL COURTS

HERNANDO MUNICIPAL COURT, 2601 Elm Street, Hernando, Mississippi 38632

HORN LAKE MUNICIPAL COURT, 3101 Goodman Road, Horn Lake, Mississippi 38637

OLIVE BRANCH MUNICIPAL COURT, 9200 Pigeon Roost, Olive Branch, Mississippi 38654

SOUTHAVEN MUNICIPAL COURT, 8889 Northwest Drive, Southaven, Mississippi 38671

WALLS MUNICIPAL COURT, 9087 Nail Road, Walls, Mississippi 38680

  • Limited Criminal Jurisdiction meaning these Courts can only hear certain types of criminal cases
  • hears cases involving violations of traffic laws, preliminary hearings in felony case and misdemeanor charges, not felonies
  • after a preliminary hearing on a felony case, the Municipal Judge sends the case file to the grand jury to decide on whether to prosecute in DeSoto County Circuit
  • Municipal Judges also hear violations of city ordinances such as animal control, health and sanitation, fire prevention, building code violations
  • cases are either settled with the prosecutor or heard by the Municipal Judge individually, without a jury and no court reporter is present
  • convictions can be appealed to DeSoto County Court

 

Grounds for Termination of Parental Rights in Mississippi

 

The grounds to terminate parental rights in Mississippi are found in Mississippi Statute §93-15-121.  The following factors must be proven by clear and convincing evidence and may be considered as grounds to terminate the parent’s parental rights:

  • SEVERE MENTAL ILLNESS  Parent is medically diagnosed by qualified mental health professional with a severe mental illness or deficiency unlikely to change in a reasonable period of time and based on expert testimony or an established pattern of behavior, makes the parent unable or unwilling to provide an adequate permanent home for the child; OR
  • EXTREME PHYSICAL DISABILITY Parent medically diagnosed by a qualified health professional with an extreme physical incapacitation that is unlikely to change in a reasonable period of time and which, based upon expert testimony or an established pattern of behavior, prevents the parent, despite reasonable accommodations, from providing minimally acceptable care for the child; OR
  • CHRONIC ALCOHOLISM OR DRUG ADDICTION Parent is suffering from habitual alcoholism or other drug addiction and has failed to successfully complete alcohol or drug treatment as reasonably directed by the court; OR
  • FAILURE TO PROVIDE BASIC NECESSARY NEEDS Parent unwilling to provide reasonably necessary food, clothing, shelter, or medical care for the child; reasonably necessary medical care does not include recommended or optional vaccinations against childhood or any other disease; OR
  • FAILURE TO VISIT AND COMMUNICATE WITH CHILD Parent has failed to exercise reasonable visitation or communication with the child; OR
  • ERODED PARENT CHILD RELATIONSHIP CAUSED BY PARENT Parent’s abusive or neglectful conduct has caused, at least in part, an extreme and deep-seated antipathy by the child toward the parent, or some other substantial erosion of the relationship between the parent and the child; OR
  • ABUSE BY PARENT Parent has committed an abusive act for which reasonable efforts to maintain the children in the home would not be required under Section 43-21-602, or a series of physically, mentally, or emotionally abusive incidents, against the child or another c child, whether related by consanguinity or affinity or not, making future contacts between the parent and child undesirable; OR
  • CRIME AGAINST ANY CHILD Parent has been convicted of any of the following offenses against ANY child such as rape of a child, sexual battery of a child, touching a child for lustful purposes, exploitation of a child, felonious abuse or battery of a child, carnal knowledge of a step or adopted child or child of a cohabitating partner; OR
  • CRIME AGAINST PARENT’S CHILD Parent has been convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter of another child of the parent, aiding, abetting, attempting, conspiring or soliciting to committing murder or voluntary manslaughter of the child or another child of the parent or felony assault that results in the serious bodily injury to the child or another child of the parent

THE MISSISSIPPI DOG AND CAT PET PROTECTION LAW OF 2011

The Mississippi Dog and Cat Pet Protection Law of 2011, found in the Mississippi Code §97-41-16 was passed to protect animals from cruelty by defining cruelty, providing a process for reporting suspected cruelty and giving Mississippi judges the authority to punish animal cruelty.  This statute only provides protection to domesticated dogs and cats.

SIMPLE CRUELTY  A person is guilty of Simple Cruelty if they intentionally or with criminal negligence

  • wound
  • deprive of adequate shelter
  • deprive of food or water OR
  • carry or confine in a cruel manner
  • OR cause any person to do the same
  • it is a misdemeanor offense
  • FINE is not more than $1,000.00 OR
  • JAIL not more than 6 months OR
  • BOTH fine and jail

AGGRAVATED CRUELTY  A person is guilty of Aggravated Cruelty if they with malice shall intentionally

  • torture,
  • mutilate,
  • maim,
  • burn,
  • starve OR
  • disfigure
  • OR cause another person to do the same
  • 1ST OFFENSE–misdemeanor, fine not more than $2,500.00 OR jail not more than 6 months OR BOTH
  • 2ND OFFENSE–felony, fine not more than $5,000.00 AND jail not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

  • nolo contendere plea is counted as conviction for purposes of determining 1st or subsequent offense
  • restitution SHALL be the current replacement value of loss and actual veterinarian fees, medication, special supplies, loss of income as a result of the crime
  • court MAY order reasonable costs of sheltering, transporting and rehabilitation of the animal and any other costs directly related to the care of the animal to any law enforcement or animal control entity, either governmental or nonprofit
  • court may order a psychological evaluation, counseling paid for by the offender, community service, be restrained from employment that involves care of a dog or cat
  • EXCEPTIONS: protection of self,  protecting poultry or livestock from trespassing dog or cat, lawful practice as a Veterinarian, emergency care of a dog or cat, use of dogs or cats to herd animals for food, use of dogs or cats for organizations and events that promote dogs or cats, lawful practices under other state and federal laws, natural disaster, unintentional injury by motor vehicle, immunity for good faith reporting, immunity for people doing their job and acting in good faith

Simple Domestic Violence in Mississippi

The statute covering Domestic Violence in Mississippi is §97-3-7 which also includes the law on simple assault and aggravated assault along with the domestic violence laws.

Basically Simple Domestic Violence is a Simple Assault plus a special relationship between the perpetrator or defendant (a person charged with a crime) and the victim such as:

  • current spouse of the defendant
  • former spouse of the defendant
  • a child of that person
  • person currently living as a spouse of the defendant
  • person who formerly lived as a spouse of the defendant
  • child, parent, grandparent, grandchild of the defendant
  • person who has a current or former dating relationship with the defendant
  • person with whom the defendant has had a biological or legally adopted child

A person is guilty of Simple Domestic Violence who:

  1. attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; OR
  2. negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; OR
  3. attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm

If a person is convicted of Simple Domestic Violence, the punishment is

  • FINE of not more than five hundred dollars ($500.00) OR
  • COUNTY JAIL for not more than six (6) months

***Simple Domestic Violence 3rd (a felony) It is important to note that if a defendant, is convicted of Simple Domestic Violence 3rd, he or she can be imprisoned from five (5) to ten (10) years.

 

 

9 Right Things To Do If You’re Involved In A Car Wreck

1. PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES.  Hopefully, you will never be involved in a motor vehicle accident but preparing for vehicle emergencies, such as an accident, will significantly assist you should you ever be involved in an accident.  As a responsible driver, you should carry the following in your car at all times:

  • copy of your motor vehicle insurance card
  • copy of your motor vehicle registration
  • important contacts to notify in case of emergency
  • critical medical information & emergency medications for common passengers
  • flashlight
  • basic first aid kit
  • extra blankets, water proof gear for extremes of weather
  • water, snacks

2. ASSESS FOR INJURIES & SAFETY 1ST.  If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, the first thing to do is to assess yourself for injury and then if safe, others involved in the collision.  You may also want to help others who are more injured and rescue them from potential or actual harm but it is important to know that you are generally not under a legal duty to rescue other people in danger.

3. CALL 911.  It’s important that you Call 911 immediately or direct someone nearby to do so.  Calling 911 or activating the local emergency response is often the very best action you can take to help others in danger.  Being a victim of a motor vehicle accident, especially if you sustain head trauma, can cause an alteration in your decision making skills.  It is often best and safest to allow rapid responsive and well trained emergency response personnel to manage the scene of a motor vehicle crash scene.

4. INSURANCE EXCHANGE.  It is important again to have your motor vehicle insurance card in your vehicle at all times, especially during emergencies.  The police will need to see your insurance card.  It is important to also exchange insurance information with other drivers on the accident scene.

5. DOCUMENT THE WRECK.  It may not seem important at the time but it can be extremely valuable to you at a later date to have your motor vehicle accident scene well documented.  Do not be shy about using your cell phone to take pictures of the scene or allowing others who are not injured document the scene of the accident.  You may also want to draw pictures, take notes and document as early as possible anything you can remember about the wreck.  These details can help later with a personal injury claim and even help clarify who is actually at fault in the wreck.

6. CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.  After the wreck and after you have received any necessary and emergency medical treatment, it is important that you notify your insurance company that you have been involved in a wreck.  Follow the directions on your insurance card or you can notify your agent for further direction on how to file an insurance claim against your policy.  It is also important that you have a personal copy of your motor vehicle insurance policy.

7. DOCTOR ASSESSMENT.  Even if you are not transported from the accident scene to a local hospital for emergency treatment or evaluation, it is still important that you are evaluated medically and as soon as reasonably possible.  Many injuries are not apparent at the time of a motor vehicle accident; symptoms sometimes arise later that can cause a chronic condition or lifelong disability if not treated aggressively.  It is wise to see a doctor to thoroughly evaluate you after a motor vehicle crash.

8. ACCIDENT REPORT.  Depending on the location of the wreck scene, the police that responded to the accident will prepare an official accident report.  You can call that police agency and inquire about when you may be able to pick up a copy and what the fee will be for a copy.  If you already know that you will hire an attorney, your attorney can obtain a copy.

9. CONTACT PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY.  You are encouraged to contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options after any motor vehicle accident.  Dabar Law offers a free consultation with many convenient appointment times, including weekends and after-hours.  You may call our office at 662-469-4411 to schedule your free consultation for answers regarding your motor vehicle accident.  We are conveniently located at 324 West Valley in Hernando, DeSoto County, Mississippi.

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