Mississippi Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is widely recognized as a major problem in the United States, and many states, Mississippi included, have taken steps to deter acts of domestic violence by imposing harsh criminal penalties upon offenders. If you have been accused of domestic violence in Mississippi, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest, to improve your chances of avoiding a criminal conviction and the long-lasting consequences that accompany Mississippi domestic violence offenses. Domestic violence is a serious criminal charge in the state of Mississippi, and without proper legal representation, you could end up serving years in prison, so don’t wait to hire a competent domestic violence defense attorney to represent your case.
Mississippi Domestic Violence Law
Mississippi laws against domestic violence are contained within the state’s criminal assault statutes. MS Code § 97-3-7 covers such crimes as simple assault, aggravated assault, simple domestic violence and aggravated domestic violence. In order to be considered an act of domestic violence, the alleged victim of the crime must have a close relationship with the defendant, either as a current or former spouse or a child of that person, a person who currently lives or formerly lived as a spouse with the defendant or a child of that person, a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or other blood relative of the defendant, a person who currently has or formerly had a dating relationship with the defendant, or a person with whom the defendant has had a biological or legally adopted child. Any time a simple assault or aggravated assault is committed against an intimate partner or a family or household member that falls under one of these relationship categories, the assault may qualify as domestic violence.
Simple Domestic Violence
The law defines the crime of simple domestic violence (MS Code § 97-3-7(3)(a)) as attempting to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to a family or household member, negligently causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon or other means likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, or attempting by physical menace to place a family or household member in fear of imminent serious bodily harm.
Aggravated Domestic Violence
The crime of aggravated domestic violence (MS Code § 97-3-7(4)(a)) occurs when a person attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life causes serious bodily injury to a family or household member, attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to a family or household member with a deadly weapon, or strangles or attempts to strangle a family or household member.
Domestic Violence Arrests and Charges
Any time the police respond to a situation where spouses, significant others or family members are involved in a physical altercation, an arrest can be made so long as the police have probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence was committed, even if no one was injured. The tricky thing about domestic violence situations is that it is not always clear which party is the predominant aggressor and which is the victim. That means you could end up being arrested for domestic violence even if you were acting in self-defense at the time the alleged abuse occurred, or you could be arrested on the basis of fabricated allegations of abuse. Unfortunately, once you have been arrested for domestic violence, the charges cannot simply be “dropped” by the alleged victim. It is up to the state of Mississippi to decide whether to dismiss the charges against you or proceed with the case.
Mississippi Domestic Violence Penalties
Most domestic violence crimes are charged as misdemeanors and the penalties associated with a simple domestic violence conviction in Mississippi are the same as those for simple assault – up to $500 in fines, imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, or both. However, the punishment increases significantly for a third domestic violence offense. Pursuant to MS Code § 97-3-7(3)(b), any person who commits an act of simple domestic violence within seven years of two prior convictions for any simple or aggravated domestic violence offense is guilty of a felony, punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 10 years.
Aggravated domestic violence is a more serious crime and the penalties associated with an aggravated domestic violence conviction in Mississippi are far more severe. If you are accused of committing a Mississippi aggravated domestic violence offense, you could face imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than two years nor more than 20 years upon conviction. Pursuant to MS Code § 97-3-7(4)(b), any person who commits an act of aggravated domestic violence within seven years of two prior convictions for simple or aggravated domestic violence shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years nor more than 20 years.
The sentencing requirement for a fourth or subsequent conviction for a domestic violence-related offense in Mississippi is even more severe. If you are found guilty of simple or aggravated domestic violence in Mississippi and you have three or more previous convictions for simple or aggravated domestic violence, you could face a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years nor more than 20 years.
A Knowledgeable Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Can Help
As you can see, the state of Mississippi attaches harsh penalties to crimes against family and household members, and if you are found guilty of committing an act of domestic violence, depending on your criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the alleged crime, you could face up to 20 years in prison, among other life-changing criminal penalties. If you have been charged with domestic violence in Mississippi, or you suspect that you may be charged at some point in the future, it is in your best interest to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney who specializes in Mississippi domestic violence cases. With a knowledgeable domestic violence defense lawyer on your side, you can ensure that you get the best outcome possible in your case.