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The Mississippi Criminal Justice Process
Once an arrest is made (and often before), a person finds him/herself dragged into a machine that seems to churn along without any regard to the specifics of his case or his/her particular circumstances. If a public defender is appointed, the appointment is often only temporary, until another public defender picks up the file. If an experienced attorney is not retained quickly, then defensive opportunities often pass by that will not come again.
After the felony arrest, in the typical case, an initial appearance takes place first. At the initial appearance, the judge advises the accused of his charge and bond amount. The initial appearance is followed by the preliminary hearing, which, depending upon the unique circumstances of the case, either should or should not be waived. Very often, the preliminary hearing SHOULD NOT be waived as valuable information could be revealed at the preliminary hearing.
After the preliminary hearing, the case may be presented to the Grand Jury which will decide whether or not to return an indictment (formal charge) against the accused. If an indictment is returned by the Grand Jury, then the Circuit Court has jurisdiction over the matter and the first appearance in Circuit Court will be the arraignment where the defendant (accused) will enter a plea of not guilty and be assigned a trial date. After arraignment, the discovery process will begin and pre-trial motions and other matters will be dealt with by the Court when prompted to do so by defense counsel.
Eventually, the case will come to a close either by a trial by jury, a guilty plea (plea bargain; or “open” plea), a diversion program or a dismissal. The same thing will simultaneously be happening to hundreds of other cases (people) in the same court system. Hundreds become thousands and people become numbers. Thus, it is critical that you have an experienced, effective, ethical advocate taking care to make sure that your best interests are kept in focus.
Attorney James L. Kelly has been practicing criminal law in central Mississippi since 1988. He is a former Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Mississippi and former Assistant District Attorney for several central Mississippi counties. He has been in private practice, defending citizens accused of various matters in all State and Federal Courts since 1999.
Like most everything else, you get what you pay for. Shop for the cheapest law firm in town, and you’ll wind up with the cheapest lawyer in town representing you or your family member. Is that really what you want?
It depends. A reasonable fee; reasonable for you and the law firm. Each case is different, so we have to wait until we know more about your matter until a fee quote can be made.
With our legal assistants, over the phone, yes; but not with our lawyers. If our lawyers did that, that’s all they would do, all day long. We’d then go out of business.
We win an overwhelming majority of the cases we take, either with an election not to charge and arrest, a dismissal, a very favorable plea arrangement or a not guilty verdict by jury or bench trial.
Sometimes, but very few. If a client is innocent, we’ll take the case no matter the charge. If the client admits guilt, we’ll work to see that the outcome is fair and just while making sure that our client’s rights are fully protected.
Yes. We are located directly across the street from the Rankin County jail. No other law firm is closer. It’s a three minute walk. We can also drive to other jails, or prison, if necessary.
Yes, remember, you have the right to remain silent. Don’t be fooled when the law enforcement officer acts like he’s your friend and tells you that it is best that you go ahead and give a detailed statement without a lawyer present. You will not talk your way out of a felony charge if the officer already has his mind made up that you’re guilty. He’s just trying to get you to admit to something he can later use against you. Whether or not you call this office, do not talk to law enforcement about your situation without a lawyer present. We often get calls and people say: “Do I need a lawyer, a detective wants to talk with me about a crime, but I didn’t do anything wrong?” Whenever a man or woman with a gun and handcuffs wants to talk to someone about a potential charge, it’s a pretty safe bet that a very good lawyer is needed quick. Also, please remember that you are presumed innocent. It is the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted of anything.