Last night, I was arrested for public drunk in MS. I spent about 5 hours in Jail. My court date is set for May. Do I need a lawyer? What is the likelyhood I will have to face jail time, I read where it could be up to 30 days and/or a fine?
The statute for "public drunkenness" in Mississippi is Section 97-29-47 of the Mississippi Code, which states the following:
"If any person shall profanely swear or curse, or use vulgar and indecent language, or be drunk in any public place, in the presence of two (2) or more persons, he shall, on conviction thereof, be fined not more than one hundred dollars ($100.00) or be imprisoned in the county jail not more than thirty (30) days or both."
Without knowing more about your case - for example, things such as probable cause, "aggravating" versus "mitigating" factors that led to your arrest, prior arrest and/or conviction record, etc. (a criminal defense trial attorney will know what these things mean, even if you don't at this very moment) - it is not plausible to tell you the "likelihood" that you will actually have to serve a jail sentence, IF convicted of the charge.
Like anyone accused of a crime, you have the right to represent yourself. But as the old saying goes, "One who represents himself/herself not only has a fool for a client, but a fool for a lawyer, too." You would be well-advised to contact the office of a criminal defense lawyer to discuss your situation.
Lance O. Mixon
I agree with Mr. Mixon's answer and would add the following. When you are facing a criminal charge, always consult with a criminal defense attorney, which doesn't mean you have to hire that person, but nothing good in court happens without having an attorney present or previously consulting with an attorney. Our criminal justice system is an alien environment for most people who encounter law enforcement and the worst thing that can happen to anyone is to either be suprised by something unexpected in court or worse, a very bad outcome for the unprepared. Most good criminal defense attorneys will consult with you on a pending matter at no cost to you. Good luck.
Your question was "Do I NEED a lawyer?" No you don't NEED a lawyer. Yes, thirty days is the maximum. If this is your first offense, my suggestion is call the Clerk's office for the Court in which the case will be tried. Ask if you can pay the fine. If they say yes, and you are guilty, and there will be no adverse consequences to you, other than a misdemeanor conviction, then pay the fine, and you will do no time.
If they will not let you just pay a fine, or you have a criminal record, then you need to speak to an attorney.
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