Frequently Asked Questions

New Expungement Law In Mississippi

Under a new Mississippi Law that goes into effect July, 2010, a person who has been convicted of one of the crimes listed below, may be eligible to have the conviction expunged from his/her record! In Mississippi, having an expungement means that not only is the record of the conviction wiped off your record, but the arrest record for the offense is removed as well.

The new law applies to convictions for: Bad Check Offenses, Possession of a Controlled Substance, Possession of Paraphernalia, False Pretense, Larceny, Malicious Mischief and Shoplifting.

A person can only have one conviction expunged under the new law, and a person must wait five years after they have successfully completed all terms and conditions of their sentence before the conviction can be expunged.

There are already laws in place which allow for an expungement in certain situations where charges have been dismissed or when someone was non-adjudicated. However, with the exception of some minor drug offenses, never before have persons who are convicted and sentenced for a FELONY been eligible for an expungement.

Not only do people with current convictions need to take notice of the new law, but people facing criminal charges need to take note as well. If you are currently facing criminal charges other than those shown above, it may still be possible for your case to be resolved in a manner that would make you eligible for an expungement under the new law.

If you have questions regarding the effect of the new law either on a current conviction or on pending criminal charges, please call our office for more information.

What are the classifications and penalties for misdemeanor offenses under federal law?

The difference between misdemeanors and felonies is the severity of punishment. The United States Code defines a misdemeanor to be an offense that is punishable by imprisonment for up to 1 year.  A petty offense is a misdemeanor that is punishable by no more than six months in prison and/or a fine of no more than $5,000.

Legal entities, such as corporations or partnerships, also may be charged with misdemeanor offenses and may be fined under federal law. The maximum fines that courts may impose upon these entities are twice the maximum fines that may be imposed upon individuals.

Under federal law, misdemeanors are divided into the following three classes of punishment:

  1. imprisonment for more than six months but less than one year, plus amaximum fine of $250,000 per individual defendant for offenses that result in death or $ 100,000 per individual defendant for offenses that do not result in death;
  2. imprisonment for more than 30 days, but less than 180 days, plus a maximum fine of $5,000 per individual; and
  3. imprisonment for no more than 30 days, plus a maximum fine of$5,000 per individual

What is RICO?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C.S. §§ 1961-68, is a federal statute that prohibits the acquisition or operation of an ”enterprise” affecting interstate commerce by persons engaging in a ”pattern of racketeering activity” or ”collection of an unlawful debt.”  RICO provides both civil and criminal sanctions.

RICO prohibits participation in a pattern of two or more racketeering activities. Criminal racketeering activities include syndicate gambling, loan sharking, murder, kidnapping, robbery, bribery, extortion, obscenity, and drug trafficking.  RICO establishes severe criminal penalties, including a prison term of 20 years, fines up to twice the gross profits of the offense, and forfeitures of interests maintained in or acquired through the ”enterprise.” It permits the government to obtain pretrial and pre-indictment restraining orders to aid in forfeiting a defendant’s property.

What constitutes “aiding and abetting”? 

Aiding and abetting is a theory of criminal liability by which a person who aids another in the commission of a crime may be held liable for that participation. To be convicted of aiding and abetting, the defendant must know of the perpetrator’s criminal objective and do something to make it succeed. For example, driving a friend to a meeting knowing that the friend is going to buy illicit drugs may expose the driver to prosecution for aiding and abetting a drug transaction.

To prove an aiding and abetting violation, the prosecution must show:

  • a primary violation of a criminal law by another;
  • that the person accused of aiding and abetting had actual knowledge of the primary violation; and
  • that the accused rendered substantial assistance to the primary violator in furtherance of the crime

Two obvious defenses to aiding and abetting liability are that there was no underlying criminal violation and that the accused did not have the requisite knowledge of the infraction. An accused’s mere presence at a crime scene is not enough to make him/her liable for the crime itself unless he/she does something to help the perpetrator commit the crime.  Under federal law, the punishment for someone who aids and abets a crime is the same as the punishment for the person who principally committed the crime. In some states, the punishment may be less.

How do the securities laws differ from other federal anti-fraud legislation?

Many of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws, and their enforcement, are set by Securities and Exchange Commission regulations.  In contrast, more traditional anti-fraud enforcement is addressed directly through legislation. The federal securities laws also differ in that they impose affirmative duties to disclose material facts in certain circumstances, and the failure to make such disclosures can amount to fraud. In addition, parts of the regulated securities industry are self-governing. As such, the failure to comply with internal industry rules can raise issues of securities fraud in certain situations.

What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is the fraudulent appropriation of another’s property by a person to whom it has been entrusted, with the intent to defraud the owner of the property. Unlike larceny, embezzlement can exist even when the defendant has no intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Both federal and state laws criminalize embezzlement.

In Mississippi, embezzlement generally carries the same punishment as does the theft of property of the value or kind embezzled. Embezzlement of public funds is a felony

What is “entrapment”? 

“Entrapment” is a defense raised in criminal cases when the police induce the accused to commit a crime that he or she otherwise would not commit. A valid entrapment defense has two components:

  • governmental inducement to commit the offense; and
  • absence of the defendant’s predisposition to commit the crime

The defendant has the initial burden of showing that the state induced him or her to commit the crime. Once the defendant has done that, then the government must overcome the entrapment claim by proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime regardless of the government’s action.