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Madison County Circuit Court

Named for President James Madison, Madison County, Mississippi is made up of land between the Big Black River and the Pearl River. The 1820 Treaty of Doak’s Stand was the product of General Andrew Jackson’s meeting with Pushmataha, the Choctaw Chieftain. Settlers began coming in from the Carolinas and Virginia once word came of the extremely fertile soil and the green rolling hills of the Madison County area. John B. Peyton was selected by the Madison County Board of Police in 1833 to scout out an area for a new Madison County Seat. Peyton laid the area out in blocks, reserving the center block for the public square. The new County Seat of Madison County became Canton, which was legally incorporated in the 1830’s. The County quickly began to grow, soon boasting two banks, ten dry goods stores, a female academy, a church, a jail, a courthouse, two watchmakers, three tailor shops, a tin shop, a bakery, a drug store and three grocery stores.

Notoriety came to the town of Canton when Siamese twins, Chang and Eng visited, purchasing two custom suits from Perlinsky’s Tailor Shop. Two stories circulate regarding how the town of Canton got its name. Some believe that Canton is on the exact opposite side of the world as Canton, China, while others believe the town is named for the daughter of a Chinese family who died in the area. Madison County is made up of 717.11 square miles of land, and 24.86 square miles of water. Today, Madison County has more than 100,000 residents and is bordered by Holmes County to the North, Leake County to the east, Rankin County to the south, Hinds County to the southwest, Yazoo County to the west and Scott County to the southeast.

Residents and visitors alike enjoy the Ross Barnett Reservoir, which was created by impounding the Pearl River between Madison and Rankin Counties. The Barnett Reservoir was completed in 1965 and has 105 miles of shoreline. The Reservoir is bounded on the north by the historic Natchez Trace and is about 3.5 miles wide at the widest point and about 45 miles long. In the summertime, the average depth of the Reservoir is about 12 feet. Boating, sailing, water sports, hiking, camping, fishing, bird- watching and picnicking are all outdoor recreational activities enjoyed by all at the Ross Barnett Reservoir. Visitors enjoy participating in national and regional fishing tournaments, festivals and weekend regattas, all held at the Reservoir.

Madison County Circuit Court

The Madison County Circuit Court is located at 128 West North Street, Canton, Mississippi. Judges John H. Emfinger, Dewey Arthur and Steve Ratcliff preside over the Madison County Circuit Court. The Madison County Circuit Court meets Monday through Friday for much of the year due to the heavy docket load. The Madison County Circuit Court has authority over felony criminal prosecutions as well as civil lawsuits. Court appeals are also heard in the Madison County Circuit Court, as well as appeals from administrative boards and commissions.

Those charged with a felony criminal offense or those who file a civil lawsuit over $250,000 will have an initial appearance in the Madison County Circuit Court. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department has authority to make arrests which go to the Madison County Circuit Court, as do the Madison Police Department, the Ridgeland Police Department, the Canton Police Department, the Flora Police Department and the Mississippi Highway Patrol.

Felony and Misdemeanor Offenses

Felony offenses encompass a group of crimes considered to be the most serious type of criminal offense, often involving harm to another human being. Lesser crimes are known as misdemeanor offenses. Many other states have gone to a classification of criminal offenses, such as a Class A felony, Class B felony, and so on, however the state of Mississippi simply has felony crimes and misdemeanor crimes. Felony crimes in the state of Mississippi include murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, rape, other sexual crimes, drug crimes, embezzlement, grand larceny, arson, and some repeat misdemeanors, such as third or subsequent DUIs or third offense shoplifting charges. A misdemeanor crime which is charged based on the value of the item can be charged as a felony if the value exceeds $500.

In the state of Mississippi, a felony is generally returned by a Grand Jury, which is a group of citizens from the County who are summoned to the Courthouse, given an oath and the responsibility to inquire into crimes committed in Madison County. The Grand Jury is not meant to determine innocence or guilt, rather only to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge a person with a crime. If the Grand Jury finds probable cause, a True Bill or Indictment will be returned. An Indictment is the charging document which sets the criminal process in motion. The penalties for a felony conviction are much more severe than those from a misdemeanor conviction. A person convicted of a felony offense can be sentenced to time in the Mississippi State Penitentiary—from one year to life in prison, or even the death sentence for a capital murder.

Misdemeanor offenses in the state include first and second DUIs, possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana, resisting arrest, simple assault, stalking, perjury, harassment, trespass, criminal mischief, theft of property under $500, shoplifting items worth less than $500, disorderly conduct, forgery and hazing. Penalties for misdemeanor crimes include city or county jail for up to one year and fines up to $1,000. While a misdemeanor conviction can potentially cause you to have a hard time getting a job, a felony conviction is much worse. A felony conviction can result in your right to vote or own a firearm being taken away, an inability to obtain a federal student loan, an inability to obtain a professional license and even trouble renting a home or apartment. If you have been charged with a Madison County criminal offense, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced Mississippi criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible.

Contact Our Madison County Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a crime in Madison County or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced Madison County criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights throughout the criminal process.

At Coxwell & Associates, PLLC, our attorneys believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That’s why we work tirelessly to defend our Madison County clients. Contact Coxwell & Associates today at 1-601-948-1600 or 1-877-231-1600.

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