Have you or your loved ones ever been arrested, convicted, charged with a crime, or been charged with a crime and had the charge dismissed or remanded? Under Mississippi law, the record of that arrest or charge may be expunged. The term "expungement" is just a fancy legal term that means "erasing" your criminal record. There are times in everyone's life when they do things without thinking about future consequences, and those poor or silly choices can comes back to haunt them with a vengeance when they apply for schools, loans, or jobs. These mistakes are often just distant memories to the individual, but to a potential employer, Loan Company, or educational institution that runs a background check, they can be much more serious. And a criminal conviction will take away the right to vote in some instances, the right to hold office, the right to possess a weapon and go hunting.
Even if you are charged and do not get convicted, there is a haunting record of your arrest. Some people may ask, how is this possible? Didn't the judge and prosecutor dismiss or drop the charges because you agreed to go to counseling, mandatory education classes, paid the fines, or you completed all the court asked so you would not have a criminal record? Although, the judge may have dismissed your case or the prosecutor dropped the charges, if you were ever arrested, your "arrest" is recorded and will show up in a background check unless you get it expunged. Having a criminal record is like having a dark shadow always following you. In today's work climate, a person needs a record that is clean if he/she hopes not to start the job search ahead of the next person.
An expungement erases from your record all history of the arrest or conviction. When the attorneys at Coxwell & Associates handle an expungement they personally make sure the Mississippi Criminal Information Center (MCIC) and all arresting agencies get a copy of the expungement. The MCIC then forwards the expungement to the F.B.I. and the National Criminal Information Center to clear the person's record. In addition, at Coxwell & Associates they are able to help you get your record erased from a dozen or more private companies that keep databases of arrests and convictions. As a result, an employer conducting a background check should not be able to locate your previous offense or arrest record since it has been expunged. Under Mississippi law, an expungement will restore a person to the same status before the arrest and charge. The person may not be found guilty of perjury for not mentioning the arrest or conviction.
A misdemeanor arrest or charge can be expunged from a person's record in Mississippi. A misdemeanor is a "minor" crime, or one which does not result in prison time. A misdemeanor can carry up to a year in the County Jail and a fine. So, misdemeanors are not really "minor" crimes. The majority of people who encounter the criminal justice system are charged with misdemeanors and these charges can be devastating on a person's future.
First Offense: Pursuant to Miss. Code Ann. §99-19-71(1), "Any person who is convicted of a misdemeanor, excluding a conviction for a traffic violation, and who is a first offender, may petition the justice, county, circuit or municipal court in which the conviction was had for an order to expunge any such conviction from all public records."
There are some situations that provide for expungement of additional misdemeanor convictions obtained in municipal court. Miss. Code Ann. § 21-23-7(6) provides that upon prior notice to the prosecuting attorney and upon a showing in open court of (1) rehabilitation, (2) good conduct for a period of 2 years since the last conviction in any court and (3) that the best interest of society would be served, the court may, in its discretion, order the record of conviction of a person of any or all misdemeanors in that court expunged.
Non-Adjudication: Under Mississippi law a misdemeanor charge that has been non-adjudicated shall be dismissed upon successful completion of court-imposed conditions. Upon dismissal, Mississippi law directs the Court to expunge the record upon petition to the Court. However, Courts and prosecutors do not expunge or erase your record for you. You must do it yourself.
Expungement after Dismissal or No Charge: Mississippi law requires the Court, upon petition, to expunge the record in which an arrest was made, the individual was released and the case was dismissed or the charges were dropped or there was no disposition of the case or the individual was not formally charged within 12 months of being arrested.
Expungement of Minor in Possession Charge: A minor in possession of light wine and beer conviction may be expunged in certain circumstances but no "sooner than one (1) year after the dismissal of the charge or completion of any sentence and/or payment of any fine." Miss. Code Ann. § 67-3-70(6).
Upon 5 years after successful completion of all the terms and conditions of the sentenced imposed by the court, the individual can petition the circuit court were convicted to have the DUI expunged if (1) it was a first offense DUI under Miss. Code Ann. §63-11-30(2) or (3); (2) the individual is not a holder of a commercial driver license holder (CDL); (3) the individual did not refuse to submit to a blood or breath test; (4) the individual's blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) tested below .16% (if available); (5) the individual has not been convicted or does not have any pending charges of DUI; and (6) the individual provides the court with justification of why the DUI conviction should be expunged. This right to expungement is relatively new. It became the law in 2014.
Some felony charges can be expunged, even after a guilty plea or a conviction. Any felony charge that was dismissed, not prosecuted or the individual was found not guilty can be expunged.
Expungement of Certain Felonies: Mississippi law allows for the expungement of the following felony convictions:
1. A bad check offense ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-19-55;
2. Possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-139(c) or (d);
3. False pretense ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-19-39;
4. Larceny ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-14-41;
5. Malicious mischief ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-17-67; or
6. Shoplifting ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-23-93.
An individual is only eligible to expunge one of the above felony convictions. Any person convicted of one of the above felonies must wait 5 years from the successful completion of all terms and conditions of the sentence before petitioning the court for an expungement. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-71(2) (a).
Expungement of Felonies Committed While Under the Age of 18: Mississippi law allows for the expungement of additional felony convictions if committed while the person was under the age of 18. In such cases, any one felony conviction may be expunged except for the following:
1. Rape ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-65 and 97-3-71;
2. Sexual Battery ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-95;
3. Murder ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-21;
4. Manslaughter ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-25;
5. Carjacking ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-113 through 97-3-117;
6. Burglary of a commercial establishment or occupied dwelling;
7. Cyberstalking ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-45-15;
8. Exploitation of children by the use of computer or other means ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-5-31 through 97-5-37;
9. Armed robbery ~ Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-79; and
10. Any felony that, in the determination of the circuit court, is a violent crime or felony that is related to the distribution of a controlled substance and in the court's discretion such should not be expunged.
An individual is only eligible to expunge one felony conviction committed while under the age of 18. Any individual with such conviction must wait 5 years from the date of successful completion of all terms and conditions imposed in the sentence before expungement is available. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-19-71. Beginning July 1st, 2015, a person who received a felony conviction under the age of twenty-one (21) may obtain an expungement.
Expungement for Non-adjudication or Pretrial Intervention: When a felony charge has been non-adjudicated, Mississippi law allows that upon successful completion of the court imposed terms and conditions, the charge is to be dismissed. Upon dismissal of the charge and upon petition to the Court, the law instructs the Court to expunge the record.
Expungement after Dismissal or Case Retired to File: Mississippi law requires, upon petition, the Court to expunge the record of any case in which an arrest was made, the individual arrested was released and the case was dismissed or the charges were dropped or there was no disposition of the case. Miss. Code Ann. § 99-15-26 (5) or §99-19-71(4).
Crimes That Cannot Be Expunged: Mississippi law does not allow for expungement of the following crimes.
1. Sex offenses. If an individual is required to register as a sex offender, the underlying conviction cannot be expunged. Miss. Code Ann. § 45-33-55.
2. Violent Crimes
1. Attempted Murder
2. Aggravated Assault
4. Killing of an unborn child
6. Human trafficking
If you have a prior arrest or conviction and would like to inquire about an expungement, please contact the team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at 601-948-1600. The attorneys at Coxwell & Associates have real experience helping people solve life's problems.