Byram Municipal Court
Byram is a city in Hinds County, Mississippi, with a population of 11,489 as of the 2010 census. To the north of Byram is the state capital, Jackson. I-55 passes through the east side of Byram and, according to the U.S. Census, the town is comprised of 18.4 square miles. Byram was originally incorporated in 1870, then was incorporated a second time on June 16, 2009. The incorporation was surrendered during the Great Depression when the town found itself unable to fund municipal services. An early settler to the area—A.M. Byram—who donated land for the depot was the inspiration for the name of the town. Byram is known as the Home of the Swinging Bridge, which was built in 1905.
At that time, the Swinging Bridge was the only access across the Pearl River and today is one of the few remaining examples of a short-span vehicular suspension bridge. Since 1987, the Byram Swinging Bridge is only open to foot traffic and has been declared a historical landmark. After completion of the bridge renovation, padlocks began appearing on the railing cables of the bridge. These padlocks are known as “love locks”—an old tradition which dates back to World War I Serbia. Sweethearts inscribe or paint their names on the locks, then fasten them to the bridge, throwing the key into the water below to symbolize unbreakable love. Nearby places of interest include The Little Red Schoolhouse, the Mississippi Children’s Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Art.
Byram Municipal Court
The Byram Municipal Court is located at 5901 Terry Road, Byram, Mississippi. Municipal Judges Dale Schwindaman and Damon Stevenson preside over the Byram Municipal Court. The City Prosecutor is John Scanlon and the Court Clerk is Paula Morrison. Court is in session on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Wednesdays of every month. Initial appearances are at 8:00 a.m. Traffic offenses and misdemeanor criminal violations as well as building code violations are heard in the Byram Municipal Court. Byram Police Officers can make arrests within the city limits for criminal or civil violations. The Hinds County Sheriff’s Department can make arrests within the city limits as well, as can the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Once you are on the Natchez Trace Parkway, you are in federal territory which means the National Park Service Park Rangers have jurisdiction.
Felonies and Misdemeanors
A felony offense is a much more serious offense than a misdemeanor offense and comes with much higher penalties as well. In the state of Mississippi, a misdemeanor offense has a maximum sentence of one year in jail and $1,000 fine, while a felony offense has much higher fines and from one year in prison to life in prison—or the death penalty. Many states have downgraded some drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, usually for possession of marijuana in a small amount. Some states have enacted three-strike laws which give an automatic life sentence to a person convicted of a felony who has previously been convicted of two or more violent crimes.
The state of Mississippi does have a version of the three-strikes law, however recent bills filed in the state Senate sought to change parts of the law, most notably prohibiting a felony more than ten years old to use in sentencing a person as a habitual offender. Another bill would require a jury rather than a judge to decide if a defendant would be sentenced to life in prison as a habitual offender. Finally, a third bill would require the two prior felonies were crimes of violence to warrant life in prison as a habitual offender. Some believe three-strikes laws or habitual offender laws are the harshest laws in the nation and need to be looked at more closely.
Criminal offenses and related punishments can vary wildly from state to state—a criminal offense which is a misdemeanor in one state could be a felony in another. As an example, possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is legal in Colorado, it is a misdemeanor in the state of Texas and a felony in the state of Arizona. The state of Mississippi does not define and classify felony and misdemeanor offenses like most other states, i.e., a first-degree felony, Class A misdemeanor, etc. Mississippi lists the criminal offense and the penalty for each offense, rather than placing the offense into a sub-category.
Misdemeanor offenses are more likely to be non-violent criminal acts, such as trespassing, petty theft, disorderly conduct, first-time DUI and simple assault. While felony criminal offenses are more likely to involve physical violence, there are felonies which do not involve physical violence. White collar crimes such as tax evasion, computer crimes, embezzlement, fraud and forgery can be charged as a felony—depending on the circumstances—but are not crimes which involve violence.
Some states also have what are known as “wobbler” crimes, meaning they can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor, based on the discretion of the prosecutor and whether aggravating factors are present—such as the use of a weapon. Wobbler crimes are often first charged as a felony by the prosecutor, as a method of bargaining with the defendant.
What About Expungement in Mississippi?
Expungement is possible for some criminal offenses in the state of Mississippi to avoid the continuing negative effect of a criminal record (difficulty obtaining employment, difficulty receiving a professional license, inability to obtain a government student loan, inability to rent a home, inability to own a firearm, inability to vote). It is possible to expunge a misdemeanor conviction and some felony convictions. An arrest record can be expunged in the state if the charges were remanded, non-adjudicated, dismissed or resolved through pre-trial diversion. Any misdemeanor conviction except for a traffic violation can be expunged from all public records so long as the conviction was the person’s first offense.
Felony convictions can sometimes be expunged, including the following: bad check offenses, possession of a controlled substance or paraphernalia, larceny, malicious mischief or felony shoplifting. Five years must have elapsed after successful completion of all terms and conditions related to the conviction and sentence prior to seeking expungement. If you have been charged with a criminal offense—whether felony or misdemeanor—contact an experienced Mississippi criminal defense attorney immediately.
Contact Our Byram Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you are arrested and charged with a crime in Byram, Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, or anywhere in the State of Mississippi, you need to fight for your rights and protect your freedom. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced Jackson criminal defense attorney immediately.
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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