Biloxi Municipal Court

Biloxi Municipal Court

Biloxi, Mississippi is known by many as the most progressive community in the area. Unlike most other city names, there is only one Biloxi in the United States. Biloxi was established in 1699 by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and with300 years of history under its belt, Biloxi has the distinction of being one of the oldest established cities in the entire nation. The word “Biloxi” means “First People,” and comes from the Biloxi Indian tribe. Biloxi has served under eight flags: French, English, Spanish, West Florida Republic, Magnolia State, Confederate, Mississippi State, and the United States, yet the French influence on the city is particularly evident. The historic old Spanish Trail runs through Biloxi as Highway 90, and Biloxi is also the home of the Magnolia Hotel—the oldest hotel still standing on Mississippi Coast.

When the Civil War was over, residents of New Orleans began coming to Biloxi to vacation. Biloxi also enjoyed the arrival of many immigrants who helped shape the growing seafood industry in the city. More diversity came to Biloxi with the establishment of Keesler Air Force Base which is now the largest employer in Biloxi with more than a billion dollars of annual economic impact in the area. In 1992, legalized gaming came to Biloxi, transforming this small seafood and tourist town into a major gaming destination.

The last home of Jefferson Davis, Beauvoir, can be seen in Biloxi, and the cast iron Biloxi Lighthouse, one of the most photographed attractions in the south, has survived more than 21 hurricanes since it was built in Biloxi in 1847. Virtually every event, from Mardi Gras to Christmas, is celebrated with a Biloxi parade. Those who enjoy golf will appreciate the golf courses in the Biloxi area, many of which were designed by such golfing greats as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Jerry Pate, and Davis Love III. Visitors will enjoy the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum and Fort Massachusetts, located on beautiful Ship Island. Visitors can also relax on the 26 miles of beautiful beach or take a charter boat trip.

Today, Biloxi boasts a population of about 46,000 and is one of two county seats in Harrison County. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, Biloxi was the third-largest city in the state of Mississippi, following Jackson and Gulfport. After Katrina, many refugees left the city, decreasing the population of Biloxi and making it the fifth-most-populous city in Mississippi. In fact, on the morning of August 31, 2005, in an MSNBC interview, Governor Barbour stated that 90 percent of the buildings along the Biloxi coast and neighboring Gulfport had been destroyed by the hurricane. Since that time, Biloxi has been slowly rebuilt and redeveloped.

Biloxi Municipal Court

The Biloxi Municipal Court is located at 170 Porter Avenue, Public Safety Building First Floor, Biloxi. The Senior Municipal Court Judge is William Tisdale, along with Judge James Steel and David Leckich, Court Administrator. The Municipal Court of Biloxi has jurisdiction over all traffic offenses as well as misdemeanor criminal violations which occur within the city limits. The court does not have jurisdiction over felony cases or juvenile criminal arrests, however, does have jurisdiction over juveniles charged with traffic offenses, including DUI, liquor law violations, tobacco violations and over any juvenile certified as an adult or who has a prior arrest as an adult.

No shorts, bare shoulders, low-cut tops, cell phones, food, drinks or gum are allowed in the courtroom. The first Municipal Court appearance is known as an arraignment. At the arraignment, you are required to enter a plea to the charges against you. If you plead guilty or no contest, the case will proceed to sentencing immediately. Should you plead not guilty, you are exercising your right to a trial.

Mississippi Felonies and Misdemeanors

Mississippi is one of the handful of states which do not classify their felonies and misdemeanors further into categories such as “first-degree felony,” or “second-degree misdemeanor.” Instead, the individual offenses are listed, along with the potential penalties for the criminal offense. Felonies are much more serious than misdemeanors and often involve a crime against another person or a violent crime such as murder, assault, burglary, sexual assault, and drug possession, although white-collar criminal offenses are also quite often felonies. Example of the penalties associated with some common Mississippi felony offenses include:

  • Murder—Life in prison
  • Capital Murder—Life in prison or the death penalty
  • Manslaughter—A range of up to one year in jail to 20 years in prison and a fine not less than $500
  • Possession of 50-150 grams (or 100-500 dosage units) of a Class V substance (codeine and less addictive drugs)—From 1-4 years in prison and a fine as large as $10,000
  • Robbery—Up to 15 years in prison
  • Computer Fraud—Up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine as large as $10,000
  • Domestic Violence—Up to six months in jail and/or a file as large as $500
  • Sexual Battery—Up to 30 years in prison if the offender is older than 21 years and/or a fine as large as $10,000

Misdemeanors are less serious criminal offenses—but criminal offenses nonetheless, and, as such, become a part of your criminal history record unless you can have the conviction expunged. In the state of Mississippi, a misdemeanor offense is punishable by less than a year in jail and/or a fine. Like felonies, penalties for misdemeanor offenses in the state are listed under the specific offense. Misdemeanor crimes typically include such things as possession of small amounts of marijuana, simple battery, carrying a concealed weapon, shoplifting items worth less than $500, DUI and petty theft.

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