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Mississippi Court Records

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Sealing And Expunging Criminal Records In Mississippi

Mississippi law enforcement agencies maintain and publish the criminal history of persons resident within state limits. However, laws of the state allow the criminal records of eligible record-holders to be destroyed or restricted from public access. Since both offenders and victims are adversely affected when the details of a crime are made available, both parties can apply to have records removed.

The Difference Between Sealing And Expunging Criminal Records In Mississippi

In Mississippi, sealed records are restricted from public access but remain legally viable. Only a few persons are eligible to access them. While Mississippi state laws have no provision for sealing adult criminal records, they can be removed entirely by expunction. The expungement of a criminal record in Mississippi refers to the deletion of all information on the crime, restoring the record’s bearer to a status of innocence. When this happens, the involved party has a right to claim that no such thing happened. Expungement of juvenile criminal records in Mississippi goes beyond deletion. The law of the state allows courts to destroy such records.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Seal A Criminal Record In Mississippi

Some records qualify for sealing by the Mississippi Court Rules of Criminal Procedure. Here, all personal identifying information of victims and contact addresses of involved persons go through a redaction from the files following a court order. Only a few eligible persons can access the sealed record. The general guideline to issuing an order to seal is that the benefits of privacy outweigh public knowledge.

Interested and eligible persons may have records sealed by filing a petition with the courts with current jurisdiction on the case. The court usually responds by scheduling a hearing to assess the credibility of the request. The judge ultimately decides whether to issue a court order or otherwise. After that, only eligible persons such as the parties named in the record and their representing attorneys or persons with an executive or court order can access the record.

What Crimes Are Eligible For Expungement In Mississippi?

All eligible crimes for expungement in Mississippi come under two categories:

  • Cases that did not yield a conviction
  • Cases that yielded a conviction

Non-conviction cases include:

  • Identity theft or mistaken identity
  • Dropped or dismissed charges
  • Acquittal
  • Arrest for a misdemeanor that did not go through a formal charge or prosecution within 12 months of arrest

Conviction cases include:

  • First-time drug offenses upon completing probation
  • Post one year: Alcohol-related convictions before 21 years of age
  • Post two years: Misdemeanor convictions in municipal courts
  • Post five years: first time DUI offense
  • Post five years: felony conviction

Felony convictions that qualify for expungement in Mississippi do not include the following:

  • Violent crimes
  • first-degree arson
  • Controlled substance trafficking
  • Repeat DUI offense
  • Possession of firearms by felon convicts
  • Defaulting in registration as a sex offender
  • Intimidating witness
  • Abuse or maltreatment of vulnerable persons
  • Embezzlement
  • Voyeurism

How To Expunge A Criminal Record In Mississippi

Before applying for expungement, requestors must ensure there are no pending investigations or convictions relating to the record of interest.

Persons convicted of a non-traffic misdemeanor can apply immediately after completing the sentence, provided it is a first-time offense. However, the following offenses require waiting periods:

  • Misdemeanor convictions in municipal courts attract two years;
  • Felony convictions require five years;
  • Alcohol-related offenses for persons younger than 21 years must wait one year after completing the sentence;
  • First time DUI convictions must wait five years.

To begin the expungement process, file a petition with the court having current jurisdiction on the case. Be sure to get information about the administrative procedures as they vary for each court. There are no expungement forms for Mississippi online; therefore, visit the local courthouse for further instructions. Other general requirements include:

  • Prepare an affidavit: write a personal statement of good moral character since the offense. Indicate clearly that all sentences are completed and whether outstanding convictions or civil judgment are pending in other cases.
  • Get two affidavits from persons within the community that can confirm the applicant’s character and reputation.
  • File the petition and supporting documents to the county’s court clerk where the trial took place. Send a written notice to a district attorney if it is a felony.
  • Pay $150 processing fee
  • Make copies of all documents keeping a copy for personal purposes.

The court can respond to the petition either by a judge’s decision or a court hearing. Most felonies usually go in for a court hearing.

Do Sealed Records Show Up During Criminal Background Checks In Mississippi?

No. Sealed records are usually invisible doing criminal background checks in the state. However, they are visible to the district attorney and law enforcement agents when needed.

Who Can See Sealed Records In Mississippi?

Sealed records are accessible in Mississippi only by requestors who have a court order backing their request. However, the parties named in the record can always access the document as well as anyone else to whom they grant official consent.

How To Get Sealed Records In Mississippi

The standard procedure for accessing sealed records in Mississippi begins with filing a petition to challenge the court’s decision to restrict the record. When the court receives the petition, a court hearing is held to assess it. When approved, the judge issues a court order to the individual who filed the petition. However, most records that go under a seal have a validity period. Therefore, all court orders are useful only within that validity window.

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