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Harrison, Mississippi

In 1894, W. Wilson, who represented a Chicago syndicate, arrived on the coast, making his headquarters in Pass Christian. Wilson employed several men to obtain options on all the beach properties—from the western limits of Biloxi to Henderson Point. The initial plan was to plat the lands, lay out the streets and sidewalks, put in waterworks, and create cities. The town of Biloxi grew when the New Orleans and Mobile railway was built in 1870, enabling people to ship oysters and fish to outside markets. Because fish and oysters could spoil so quickly, the oyster canning business came into being in Harrison County, and James McCabe established a canning factory to supply cans to shippers. Today, there are fifteen shrimp and oyster canning plants in Harrison County.

Early Industries and Cities in Harrison County

Foundries and machine shops were established on the north side of Bayou Bernard, and in the early 1900s, the population of Harrison County increased significantly due to the sawmills built across the county. In fact, at one point, there were seven sawmills within sight of the bridge. During the World War, Harrison County had two ship-building plants, where seagoing vessels were constructed. Many claim the old house on Porter Avenue, north of the lighthouse, was the oldest house in Harrison County, while others assert older homes existed, but were burned in big fires.

There are five incorporated cities in Harrison County: Biloxi, Gulfport, D’Iberville, Long Beach, and Pass Christian, as well as many smaller communities. Pass Christian takes its name from the channel, or pass, which runs through the oyster reefs and shallows, south about 1000 feet from the center of the town. Pass Christian is a favorite summer resort along the coast, having been incorporated in the 1940s. The Harbor of Gulfport is an artificially constructed basin, connected to the Gulf of Mexico by a dredged channel through the Mississippi Sound then through a bar at Ship Island. It is approximately 12 miles to deep water; the harbor is protected by the mainland on the north, the docks and piers on the east, by creosoted piling and stone breakwater to the south and be reclaimed land on the west and is navigable year-round.

Gulfport is a natural route for exports and imports to and from foreign countries, nearer to Memphis by 25 miles than Mobile. The Port of Gulfport is located directly on the deep water on the Gulf, making it easy for steamers to travel to without traversing long inland bays and channels, resulting in great economy to steamship lines and shippers. Today, Harrison County is still recovering from the severe damage done by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Harrison County is the second-largest county in the state of Mississippi by total area, with 976 square miles—574 square miles of land and 402 square miles of water. The population of Harrison County in 2017 was approximately 205,000. Arts and culture flourish in this historically rich county, filled with diverse ethnicities, unique customs, beautiful scenery, and a 500-year-old Friendship Oak.

Harrison County Justice Court

Harrison County Justice Court is located at 190 Lameuse Street, Biloxi, MS. The Harrison County Justice Court deals with a myriad of legal matters, from civil suits to delinquent mobile home taxes, traffic tickets issued by the State Highway Patrol as well as the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department, Public Service tickets and Game, Fish and Marine Reserve tickets. The Harrison County Justice Court also hears all matters regarding County ordinance violations and DUIs. Felony cases have an initial appearance in the Harrison County Justice Court. The five judges have court sessions at the jail three times per week to ensure an initial court appearance within three days of arrest. The Harrison County Justice Court Judges include: Judge Albert Fountain, District 1, Judge Brandon Ladner, District 2, Judge Dianne Ladner, District 3, Judge Melvin Ray, District 4, and Judge Bruce Strong, District 5.

Felonies and Misdemeanors in Mississippi

A felony charge is much more serious than a misdemeanor charge, and felony offenses are often—but not always—violent crimes, such as burglary, murder, and sex offenses. Felony convictions result in larger fines, potentially time in prison, and the loss of certain rights (voting, securing a federal student loan, obtaining a professional license, renting an apartment and difficulty securing employment).

A misdemeanor offense can result in no jail time or up to 364 days in a county or city jail, and a minimal fine, although additional factors, such as prior convictions, pending charges and the facts of the case will dictate the penalties. Felony convictions usually carry fines larger than $1,000 and/or at least one year in prison.

Felony charges could include theft of more than $500, aggravated assault, a third DUI conviction, armed robbery, manslaughter, drug trafficking, murder, embezzlement or computer fraud. Some of the more common misdemeanor charges in Mississippi include shoplifting, underage drinking, solicitation, resisting arrest, drug possession, public intoxication, first-time DUI, simple battery, and disturbing the peace.

Because a felony conviction can result in extremely serious consequences, additional constitutional rights are usually triggered when a felony is charged. Defendants who are considered low income or indigent will have the right to be represented by a public-appointed attorney.

Being accused of a criminal offense is a grave situation which requires a highly experienced Mississippi criminal defense attorney who will ensure your rights and your future are properly protected. It can be an extremely frightening, anxiety-inducing experience to be arrested and charged criminally.

Most people are unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, and, although most of us have watched police and lawyer shows on television for years, human nature prompts many to talk to the police. Remember—Miranda rights exist for a reason, and you should always take your right to remain silent seriously. What you say not only can be used against you, it will be used against you. Politely give your contact information, then request an attorney—and stop talking until your attorney arrives.

Contact Our Harrison 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 Harrison 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) 948-1600 or (877) 231-1600.

Client Reviews
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"Merrida was there immediately when I needed him. Great service. Explained the law in layman's terms and gave sound advice. I highly recommend Merrida Coxwell." B. Chism
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"The best in the state of Mississippi I highly recommend Mr. Coxwell and his team of lawyers." M. Denton