What to Expect When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Mississippi
This guide covers a Mississippi traffic ticket all the way from the stop to the appeals, and everything in between.
The StopThis is the most stressful part of what you can expect from getting a Mississippi Traffic Ticket. It is also the most crucial part of your case. This is where you get to take a look at the officer. Listen carefully to what is said. And make notes afterwards.
First, pay close attention to what the officer says. Remember what old timers say about one mouth and two ears?. If the officer asks if you are aware why he pulled you over, the answer is always "NO." Unless you are a mind reader, you cannot know the reason the officer stopped you. You may even have a pretty good idea, but you do not know the reason the officer pulled you over. Let the officer tell you the reason for initiating the stop and your lawyer can sort through whether or not it was a lawful stop. Plus, officers often give as much or more information than they take, so pay attention.
Further, exercise your constitutional right to remain silent when the officer approaches. You don't have to tell anyone about your coming and goings. The officer may say he or she knows you are up to something since you won't talk. Silence is never an admission in criminal matters. You can use your best judgment on this one, but some information is just none of the officer's business and could lead to probable cause to search your vehicle or to an arrest. You have the right to remain silent, don't hesitate to exercise that right.
Lastly, never be rude to the officer. The side of the road is where you always lose the argument. Court is where you win.
Plea BargainsMost cases do not go to trial. The vast majority of criminal cases in Mississippi are resolved through plea deals.
A good lawyer will know the lay of the land when he or she walks in the court room. Your lawyer may have already discussed your case with the prosecutor. Both sides will discuss the facts and circumstances of the case. In that way everyone can determine the possibilities of the different verdicts which may be an outcome for their side.
A plea bargain can consist of anything from dismissal of all charges (you walk out of the building afterwards) to an open plea. An open plea is rarely, if ever, entered since you would be admitting guilt and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court.
TrialThis is where you get to confront your accusers pursuant to the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, you are entitled to due process of law throughout the handling of your Mississippi Traffic Ticket case. A trial begins with opening statements by all parties. Then, the prosecution, who represents the government, presenting their case, then you will put on evidence and witnesses, if any, and finally the judge will make a ruling entered by the clerk of court if you are found guilty.
AppealsIf you are found guilty in a municipal court or justice court, you have the right to appeal your case to the county court, or circuit court if a county does not have a county court. However, Rule 12.02 of the Uniform Circuit and County Court Rules only allows thirty (30) days from the date of judgment to file your appeal. To perfect an appeal for a Mississippi Traffic Ticket, you must post the proper cost bond and appeal bond. Additionally, a proper notice of appeal must be prepared and filed.
An appeal to the county court will result in a brand new trial. This is called a trial de novo in legal terms. That makes the justice or municipal court trial essentially an expensive practice run.
Another great advantage of appealing to a county or circuit court is the applicability of the Mississippi Rules of Evidence and the Uniform Circuit and County Court Rules which are not found in the justice or municipal courts. This means procedures exist for admitting, or excluding, evidence. Additionally, these rules create certain rights and obligations for all parties, especially concerning documents relating to you Mississippi Traffic Ticket.
In the event you do not get a favorable ruling at the original trial court or at the county/circuit court, then you have the right to file an appeal with the Mississippi Supreme Court. Usually these will be deferred to the Mississippi Court of Appeals where a panel of judges will hear your case. You do not receive another trial de novo at this point. The Mississippi Supreme Court will only review the record and evidence from the lower court. The Mississippi Supreme Court will not admit new evidence or testimony.
While you may have a right to appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals from this juncture, the circumstances must concern a constitutional issue. Appeals going this far are rare, but worth mentioning.