Hancock County Mississippi

Hancock County, Mississippi

Hancock County, Mississippi was established in 1812 from the Mobile District, named in honor of John Hancock. The County Seat, Bay St. Louis, was incorporated in 1817—the first city incorporated in the state, although at that time, Bay St. Louis was called Shieldsborough (the name was changed in 1882 to Bay St. Louis). Bay St. Louis also has the distinction of being the third-oldest city on the Gulf Coast. In the first Hancock County Census, the population was about 1600, with the majority of laborers in the county working in manufacturing and commerce, rather than agriculture. By 1840, Hancock County had ten sawmills, as well as a hotel and a number of boarding houses—the county was beginning to develop a reputation as a tourist destination.

By 1850, Hancock County continued to lag behind in agriculture, ranking last in the state in cotton production, second-to-last in corn, and third-to-last in livestock. By 1880, Hancock and Harrison Counties had the highest proportions of immigrants in Mississippi as French, English, and German immigrants called the area home. In the early 1880s, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad purchased the coastal track, linking the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans. As the gambling infrastructure grew, Bay St. Louis quickly became a popular resort area for residents of New Orleans. The next few decades saw the population of Hancock County grow rapidly, reaching nearly 12,000 residents by 1900. By 1900, however, Hancock County had yet to catch up to the rest of the state agriculturally. Hancock remained a trading and industrial county, with only 530 farms.

Many well-known writers and artists either grew up in or around Hancock County or chose to move to the county. John F. H. Claiborne spent most of his adult life in Bay St. Louis, writing a number of works on the history of the state. Eliza Jane Poitevant, known to her readers as Pearl Rivers, grew up in Pearlington before becoming a well-known journalist in New Orleans. By the early 1960s, Hancock County boasted a population of more than 14,000. The county continued to have a growing manufacturing sector and a shrinking agricultural sector.

Hurricanes Camille and Katrina both wreaked severe damage in Hancock County; in 1969 Camille made landfall near Bay St. Louis, with winds gusting up to 200 mph. Although damaged buildings were rebuilt, Hurricane Katrina took many of the same buildings out thirty-six years later, killing fifty-one people in Hancock County, and destroying all buildings near the beach in Waveland, Pearlington and Bay St. Louis. Following Hurricane Katrina, a group of “hippies,” called the Rainbow Family arrived in Hancock County, operating the New Waveland Café and Clinic in the parking lot of Fred’s Department Store.

The café’ provided free hot meals, and the clinic was staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses who saw more than 5000 patients in the three months the New Waveland Café and Clinic were set up. Businesses in the area became operational as quickly as possible; the Waveland Wal-Mart operated out of a tent following Katrina, while other businesses donated their foodstuffs to survivors rather than allow them to spoil. Today, the presence of fresh seafood, tourism, and ethnic diversity have contributed to a unique economy as well as a unique cuisine in Hancock County.

Hancock County Justice Court

The Hancock County Justice Court is located at 8450 Highway 90, Bay St. Louis, MS, at the Hancock County Public Safety Complex. The hours of the Hancock Justice Court are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Hancock Justice Court hears civil actions under $3,500, criminal misdemeanor charges, citations from the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Sheriff’s Department and deals with evictions, MDOT citations and Fish and Wildlife citations, as well as performing marriage ceremonies. Criminal Court is held on the first three Tuesdays of every month, while Civil Court is held every Thursday. The Judges of Hancock County include the Honorable Judge Desmond Hoda, Honorable Judge Tommy Carver, and Honorable Judge James Lagasse.

Felonies and Misdemeanors in the State of Mississippi

If you are charged with a felony in the state of Mississippi, you will face specific penalties for the offense. Unlike many other states, the state of Mississippi does not classify felony or misdemeanor offenses by degree, rather states each offense individually, along with the penalties. In some cases, whether an offense will be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor will depend on whether the person being charged has prior convictions, the circumstances surrounding the crime, and whether there were any aggravating factors.

A felony is a much more serious offense than a misdemeanor, and crimes against other human beings are usually felonies, with the exception of simple assault. While a first-time DUI is a misdemeanor offense, a third DUI could be charged as a felony. Because the penalties for felonies are so much more severe than those for misdemeanors, it is important to have an experienced Mississippi criminal defense attorney working hard on your behalf to have felony charges reduced to misdemeanor charges whenever possible. If it is not possible to have the charges reduced, your Mississippi criminal defense attorney will fight aggressively to have your penalties reduced.

A felony in the state can bring from one year to life in the Mississippi State Penitentiary. A capital crime—treason, airplane hijacking or capital murder—can result in life in prison or the death penalty. Misdemeanor offenses, on the other hand, have a maximum penalty of $1,000 in fines and up to 364 days in county or city jail. In many cases, the judge will not sentence an offender to jail for a misdemeanor offense, rather may order community service, drug and alcohol assessment, and treatment for a drug or alcohol offense, probation, or other lesser penalties.

A felony offense not only brings penalties from the court, but it may also result in far-reaching consequences, such as difficulty obtaining employment, which can potentially last a lifetime. If you are charged with a Mississippi felony or misdemeanor offense, it is extremely important that you speak to a knowledgeable Mississippi criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.

Contact Our Hancock County Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you have been arrested on felony or misdemeanor criminal charges in the state of Mississippi, it is crucial that you speak to a knowledgeable Hancock County criminal defense attorney who will ensure your rights are properly protected. At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe in fighting aggressively for our clients, and we can build a defense that is designed to expose the holes in the prosecution’s case against you. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at (601) 265-7766.

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