Criminal cases are either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor is a crime in which the maximum penalty does not exceed one year in the county jail. A felony conviction may result in imprisonment in the state penitentiary (Parchman). The crime must be prosecuted in the county in which the crime occurred.
Misdemeanor Criminal Cases
Every Tuesday is a "plea" date where individuals charged with a misdemeanor appear and enter a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty."
Pleading "not guilty"
If a plea of "not guilty" is entered, the matter is set for a trial on a later date so that witnesses may be subpoenaed.
Before the court may accept a plea of guilty, the court must determine that a plea is voluntarily and intelligently made and that there is a factual basis for the plea.
When the defendant wishes to plead guilty to an offense charged, it is the duty of the court to address the defendant personally and to inquire and determine:
- that the defendant is competent to understand the nature of the charge against him/her;
- the defendant understands the nature and consequences of his/her plea, and the maximum and minimum penalties provided by law;
- that the defendant understands that by pleading guilty he/she waives his/her constitutional right of a trial by jury, the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses, and the right against self-incrimination; and
- if the defendant is not represented by an attorney, that he/she is aware of his/her right to an attorney at every stage of the proceedings and that one will be appointed to represent him/her if he/she is indigent.
If a defendant is found "guilty" after a trial or if a plea of "guilty" is entered, the Judge determines the penalty which, depending on the crime, may include any or all of the following:
- a jail sentence of up to one year;
- house arrest;
- probation (supervised or unsupervised);
- community service;
- victim's impact seminar;
- vehicle immobilization;
- Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP);
- drug and alcohol assessment and any recommended treatment;
- psychological assessment and any recommended treatment;
- domestic violence counseling;
- anger management counseling;
- no contact with the victim;
Who files misdemeanors?
The criminal cases consist of all misdemeanor cases which occur within Rankin County and are filed in Justice Court by:
- Rankin County Sheriff's Department;
- Rankin County Constables;
- Mississippi Highway Patrol;
- Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics;
- Mississippi Attorney General's Office;
- Mississippi Forestry Commission;
- Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks;
- Mississippi Department of Corrections;
- Mississippi Department of Transportation;
- Mississippi Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control;
- Mississippi Department of Health;
- Mississippi Real Estate Commission;
- Pearl River Valley Water Supply District;
- Mississippi State Hospital (Whitfield) Police;
- Jackson Airport Police; and
- private citizens.
Felony Criminal Cases
The Judges issue felony arrest warrants and search warrants upon a showing of probable cause.
The Judges also have the authority to conduct felony initial appearances and felony preliminary hearings although they are usually conducted in County Court.
Felony trials are conducted in Circuit Court.
If you wish to file felony charges against someone, contact the local police department if the alleged crime occurred in the city limits, otherwise contact the Rankin County Sheriff's Department at 601-825-1480.
Civil cases handled are matters in which the amount sued for does not exceed $3,500. Examples of typical civil cases are debt collection matters, torts, evictions, and replevins.
Civil Case Forms
Download Justice Court Forms
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