Mississippi credit card fraud penalties

In Mississippi it is illegal to use a credit card to buy something when that card or the number on it has been fraudulently obtained. It’s also illegal to represent without the consent of the cardholder that you are the holder of that card, or that you are the holder when the card has not been issued, or that you’ve been authorized to use that card.

Mississippi credit card fraud can carry many penalties. The punishment is going to depend on the dollar amount for which the card was used to buy something, but unlike a lot of economic crimes the threshold is very low for a felony. Under the law a first offense of less than $100 is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than a year.

But if it’s $100 or more, even just for a first offense, it’s a felony. The punishment is a fine up to $1,000 and up to three years in prison.

If you’ve been charged with credit card fraud in Southaven, Olive Branch, Horn Lake, or other parts of North Mississippi, you should seek out an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Likewise, if you find you have a warrant because of an allegation of unauthorized credit card use, you need to deal with it proactively. As a Southaven attorney for fraudulent credit card charges, I help clients fight these difficult cases. I gather evidence, negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, and if necessary prepare for trial. If it’s possible to keep a client out of jail and allow them to have the charge taken off their record, I’ll do that. That’s always a good option for first-time offenders who wish to avoid a permanent conviction.

For help with your case, contact Mississippi criminal defense lawyer Patrick Stegall at 901-205-9894 or pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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Sexual Battery in Mississippi

The crime of sexual battery in Mississippi is a very serious crime with lasting consequences.  In encompasses Mississippi’s version of rape, as well as statutory rape, meaning those particular crimes and penalties fall under the sexual battery law.

A person is guilty of sexual battery if he or she engages in sexual penetration with another person without their consent,

or with a mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless person,

or with a child at least 14 but under 16 if the accused is 36 or more months older than the child,

or with a child under the age of 14, if the accused is 24 or more months older than the child.

So in the sexual battery law you have what would be considered rape involving adults (sexual penetration without consent), rape involving a victim who is mentally disabled or physically unconscious (like someone who’s passed out), then last you have what’s basically statutory rape involving a child under the age of 16.

Between these several different levels of sexual battery in Mississippi you have different punishments.  You could be looking at up to 30 years in some cases, or 40 years for repeat offenders.  It really all depends on the facts, and with child victims the age differences.

Can you defend yourself against a sexual battery allegation and go to trial?  Yes, but this is a decision that must be made only after reviewing the case thoroughly and weighing all the options.  If it’s a charge that involves non-consensual sexual contact between adults, you’re going to have to show that it was either someone else (DNA evidence) or show that it was actually consensual (like proving that the victim was promiscuous or was under the influence of alcohol).

With children (statutory rape cases) it’s much more difficult because the state does not have to prove consent.  They have to prove only that there was a big enough age difference and that the act occurred.  So here you’re going to have to prove that it didn’t happen at all.  That may be possible in some cases, like if the victim was under the influence of alcohol or they have some kind of motive like revenge.   But it’s hard.

Patrick Stegall is a sexual battery lawyer for Mississippi, including Southaven, Olive Branch, Hernando, Tunica, and Holly Springs.  If you have been charged with this serious crime please contact him at (901) 205-9894 or pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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Mississippi Cyberstalking Laws and Penalties

Cyberstalking is a crime in Mississippi. It is unlawful to communicate electronically a threat of bodily harm to any person or their family member, or a threat to damage their property, or a threat to extort money.

It’s also a crime to electronically communicate repeatedly to another person, for the purpose of threatening, terrifying, or harassing them.  This includes false statements concerning death, injury, illness, or an arrest of the person being contacted or their family members.  So a person would be committing cyberstalking if they emailed somebody to say that person (being emailed) is being charged with a crime, or a family member has been killed in an accident, when they know it’s not true and they’re doing it to harass.

It’s even a crime to knowingly permit an electronic communication device under your control to be used for any of the above purposes.

Cyberstalking is a serious crime in Mississippi.  It is a felony punishable up to two years and a fine up to $5,000.  For people who have been convicted of this crime before, or are under a restraining order, or are on probation, parole, or out on bond on another charge, it’s punishable up to 5 years and a $10,000 fine.

They take cyberstalking cases very seriously in Mississippi.  If you’ve been charged with this offense in Desoto County or the surrounding area, contact Southaven MS cyberstalking lawyer Patrick Stegall.

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Southaven Drug Possession Lawyer on: Marijuana crimes

It is a crime to possess marijuana in the state of Mississippi.  The possession may be either personal use, which results in a misdemeanor charge, or it could be possession with intent to sell or deliver which is a felony offense and is much more serious. Which type it will be depends on the facts and the amount of drugs found.

A first offense possession of 30 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $250.  A second offense is also a misdemeanor but carries up to 60 days in jail.   If you’re charged with marijuana possession in Mississippi, the big question is how do you handle it?  Should you plead guilty on the first court date?  What about getting it off your record?

Actually a first or second conviction, according to the law, does not get reported and does not go on your record.  A private non-public record is forwarded to the state and kept on file for two years, then it’s expunged.  That’s what the law says, however I wouldn’t assume everything’s just going to work out that easily.  That doesn’t mean that the conviction won’t be found by an employer (and it is a conviction).  Better to be more proactive on the front end and try to get it expunged earlier.

Rather than plead guilty, look into having the charge deferred or remanded which means no guilty plea, no conviction, and you can have it expunged sooner.  Courts have different procedures for doing this but basically it means a short-term period of probation, possibly 3-6 months, perhaps a drug test or drug awareness classes, then the charge is dismissed and you can petition the court to take it off your record.  You should talk to a Southaven drug possession lawyer for help on how to do this.

Another problem with pleading guilty to a drug crime, even if it later comes off your record, is that your license will be suspended for six months.  You can petition to get a hardship license but that means having a separate hearing and court date from the criminal case.

Even small drug crimes are serious matters.  If you’ve been charged with marijuana possession in Mississippi, talk to Southaven drug possession lawyer Patrick Stegall by calling (901) 205-9894 or by email at pstegall@stegall-law.com.  Mr. Stegall can help you with either a misdemeanor or felony case.

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Southaven Traffic Ticket Lawyer Explains Mississippi Speeding Tickets

If you’ve received a traffic ticket in Southaven, Olive Branch, or Horn Lake MS you may be concerned about going to court and keeping it off your driving record.  Luckily you have some options.

If you can’t or don’t want to go to court, you should call a Southaven MS speeding ticket lawyer for help.  Your attorney can go to court for you.  Even if it says mandatory court appearance on the ticket, as long as an attorney goes for you then you don’t have to.

How do you keep a Mississippi traffic ticket off your record?  The law allows most of the  common traffic violations to be dismissed if you, the driver, are eligible and you do your part.  Common traffic violations include speeding, failure to use a turn signal, running a red light, and not wearing a seat belt.

So how do you know if you’re eligible and what do you have to do?  To be eligible you have to have a valid license, no traffic convictions for the last three years, and no participation in a traffic safety program in the last three years.  Traffic safety program generally means taking a driving class to keep it off your record.  If you’ve done that within the last three years then you won’t be able to do that on your current ticket.

If you are eligible, then you can take a four-hour driver safety class, pay court costs and the fine, and have the ticket dismissed and removed from your record.  You can do this whether you do not want to contest the ticket, or even if you do contest it and are found guilty.  So even if you have a trial and lose, the judge will let you take the class and keep it off your record.

The other exception to this is commercial drivers.  Commercial drivers–even if they’re driving their own non-commercial vehicle–cannot take a class to get the ticket dismissed.  Tickets for commercial drivers generally have to be tried.

Speeding and other traffic tickets can be worrisome because of what it could do to your license and to your insurance rates.  Also it can be a big hassle to go to court (especially if you live out of state).  If you’ve been charged with a traffic violation, contact Southaven MS speeding ticket lawyer Patrick Stegall at (901) 205-9894 or pstegall@stegall-law.com.  Mr. Stegall can go to court for you and see what options are available to keep the ticket off your record.

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Mississippi Drug Paraphernalia Penalties

Possession of drug paraphernalia in Mississippi is against the law.  Mississippi law states that it is unlawful for a person not authorized by the state medical board to use or possess any type of controlled substance paraphernalia.  The type of “use” is most commonly going to be to inhale or otherwise ingest the drug into your body, but other unlawful uses include to plant, manufacture, produce, process, store, contain or conceal.

Drug paraphernalia possession in Mississippi is a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of $500.  That’s an even greater penalty than marijuana possession.  Marijuana possession of 30 grams or less by a first-time offender is a fine up to $250.  And the law states that if you possess paraphernalia along with one ounce of less of marijuana, that you cannot be charged with the paraphernalia possession.  So you would only get that charge if you possess paraphernalia without any actual drugs.  In a way then, it’s better if you’re going to carry paraphernalia and get caught, that you also have some drugs on your person.

For a first-time offender, a Mississippi paraphernalia charge can be taken care of where it doesn’t show up on his or her record, but remember that six-month punishment.  It could mean probation for that six-month period, along with paying court costs and perhaps taking a random drug test along the way.

Patrick Stegall is a Southaven MS drug paraphernalia lawyer.  He handles drug cases of all types and specializes in representing first-time offenders in Southaven, Horn Lake, and Olive Branch.  For help with your case call him at (901) 205-9894 or send him an email to pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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Mississippi Felony Drug Possession Laws

Felony drug possession in Mississippi is an extremely serious crime.  Determining the exact punishment is going to depend on the type of drug and the amount, or weight.

Drugs such as cocaine, heroin, opiates, and methamphetamine are classified as schedule 1 or 2 controlled substances and carry significant penalties.  Felony possession in Mississippi means to sell, barter, transfer, manufacture, distribute, dispense or possess with intent to sell, barter, transfer, manufacture, distribute, or dispense.  In the case of schedule 1 or 2 drugs, the punishment is up to 30 years in prison and a fine of not less than $5,000 up to $1 million.

It doesn’t take much to be charged with felony possession when it comes to hard drugs such as cocaine.  Possession of one-tenth of a gram may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, and if it’s a felony the punishment is from 1-4 years.  Two to ten grams possession is punishable from 2-8 years, ten but less than 30 grams is 6-24 years, and 30 grams or more is 10-30 years.  Also the police will look at how the drugs were packaged, like if they were in smaller, individually-wrapped bags.  This is a strong indicator of possession with intent to sell or distribute.  But if there’s a small amount, there’s a good argument to be made that the possession was for personal use and should be treated as a misdemeanor.   You should talk to a Southaven drug crimes lawyer more about this.

Felony marijuana possession is also very serious.  Possession of more than 30 grams is a felony and is punishable up to 20 years and a $30,000 fine.  Again, it’s going to depend on how much marijuana is at issue, and whether the facts indicate that it was possession with intent to sell or deliver, or possession simply for personal use.

With such significant penalties, being charged with felony possession in Mississippi is going to require a skilled criminal attorney on your side.  You may be able to have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor is it’s a small amount and you don’t have a prior record.  But if you can’t get it reduced to a misdemeanor you’re going to have to explore other defenses.  This could be arguing that the drugs were not yours, or having the evidence suppressed on legal grounds such as an illegal search or seizure.

Patrick Stegall is a Southaven felony drug possession lawyer.  He handles drug crimes of all types throughout North Mississippi, and specializes in helping first-time offenders keep a clean record.  For more information, please email him at pstegall@stegall-law.com or call (901) 205-9894.

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Mississippi Computer Fraud Crimes and Penalties

The crime of Mississippi computer fraud is found in 97-45-3 of the Miss. Code.  It states: Computer fraud is the accessing or causing to be accessed of any computer, computer system, computer network or any part thereof with the intent to:
(a) Defraud;
(b) Obtain money, property or services by means of false or fraudulent conduct, practices or representations; or through the false or fraudulent alteration, deletion or insertion of programs or data; or
(c) Insert or attach or knowingly create the opportunity for an unknowing and unwanted insertion or attachment of a set of instructions or a computer program into a computer program, computer, computer system, or computer network, that is intended to acquire, alter, damage, delete, disrupt, or destroy property or otherwise use the services of a computer program, computer, computer system or computer network.

The penalties depend on the amount of money at issue.  For less than $500 the punishment is a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.  This amount is essentially treated as a misdemeanor.  For greater than $500 the punishment is a fine up to $10,000 and five years in jail.  This type of computer fraud is a felony. Whichever the charge, keeping it off your record is important because a conviction can have long-lasting, damaging consequences.  Whether you think you’re innocent or guilty, you need to consider all options for avoiding a permanent conviction.

Defending against a Mississippi computer fraud charge is critical.  The most important question is: Can the government prove you had the necessary intent to defraud or take money?  Computer crimes are different than personal crimes in that the evidence is largely through electronic records.  There are no eyewitnesses.  It is crucial, then, that you acquire and analyze those records thoroughly.  They could be the key to your freedom.

Patrick Stegall is a Mississippi computer fraud and economic crimes lawyer.  If you’ve been charged with this crime you should immediately begin building a defense while exploring options for keeping it off your record.  Mr Stegall can help.  For more information please contact him at (901) 205-9894 or pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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Mississippi Reckless Driving and Careless Driving

Reckless driving and careless driving in Mississippi are two different types of traffic offenses.  Reckless driving, found in Miss. Code 63-3-1201, is when a person drives any vehicle in such as manner as to indicate either a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.  It is punishable as a first offense of a fine up to $100.  A second offense could be 10 days in jail and a fine up to $500.

Careless driving is when a person drives a vehicle in a careless or imprudent manner, without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corner, traffic, and use of the streets and highways and all other attendant circumstances.  Careless driving is punishable by a fine of up to $50.  There are no enhanced penalties for repeat offenders, including jail time.

Reckless driving and careless driving in Mississippi are misdemeanors, and there could be many negative consequences in addition to the required fines and possible jail time.  Having such a conviction on your record could put you in danger of your license being suspended, if you have other violations.  It could raise your insurance premiums.  If you’re an immigrant, it may affect your citizenship status in the U.S. or your ability to go to other countries.  It may affect your employment or future employment, especially if your job involves lots of driving.  This is particularly important for drivers with a commercial driver’s license.  If you’re a CDL and you get a charge like this, you could flat-out lose your job or your license.

If you have been charged with reckless or careless driving in Mississippi, contact Olive Branch reckless driving lawyer Patrick Stegall.  Mississippi law allows certain drivers to have this charge removed from their record, and Mr. Stegall can help you with this process.  And if you are not eligible for this process, he can see what options there are for fighting the charge.  Contact him at (901) 205-9894 or pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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Mississippi Stalking Crimes and Penalties

The crime of stalking in Mississippi is found in the Mississippi Code 97-3-107.  Stalking is when someone purposefully engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, or who makes a credible threat, and who knows or should know that the conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her own safety, to fear for the safety of another person, or to fear damage or destruction of his or her property.

Stalking is a misdemeanor punishable up to a year in the county jail and/or a $1,000 fine.  However stalking when there is a restraining order in effect carries a $1,500 fine.

There is also the crime of aggravated stalking.  This is when stalking is committed using a deadly weapon with the intent to place the victim (or another person) in fear of death or great bodily injury; or the accused has previously been convicted of stalking in the past seven years; or the accused was a sex offender and the victim was under 18.

Aggravated stalking is a felony punishable up to five years (six years for sex offenders).  There is also a $3,000 fine ($4,000 for sex offenders).

If you’ve been charged with stalking in Mississippi, you need to understand the penalties.  Not only is there potential jail time and fines, but a permanent conviction can mean the loss of your job and difficulty in finding a new one.  Furthermore, under federal law a stalker cannot possess any firearms.

How do you avoid a conviction?  You should first talk to a Mississippi attorney who defends stalking charges.  A misdemeanor stalking charge can be expunged, and your lawyer may be able to have the charge nonadjudicated.  Nonadjudication is basically a type of supervised or unsupervised probation where the charge is later dismissed or retired, and you can then have it cleared from your record.

Not everyone qualifies for this.  You generally have to be a first-time offender, and it helps if the victim does not want to prosecute.  You other option to try and keep it off your record would be to go to trial.  Here the state must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and you also get to attack the victim’s credibility.  But trials are expensive, stressful, and drawn out.  If you have the chance to resolve the case early on without a permanent conviction, you should consider it.

Patrick Stegall is a Southaven criminal attorney who handles stalking and other crimes.  If you want to keep your charge off your record, talk to Mr. Stegall to see what options you have.  He can be reached at (901) 205-9894 or pstegall@stegall-law.com.

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