Criminal Defense Attorney in Starkville, MS

Are You Facing Criminal Charges? Don’t Fight the Criminal Justice System Alone.

 

MS criminal defense lawyerBeing arrested or accused of a crime is traumatic, especially if you’ve never been in trouble with the law before. The experience has most likely been overwhelming, confusing, and emotionally draining for you and your family.

Regardless of the crime you’ve been accused of committing — whether it’s a simple misdemeanor or serious felony, you are guaranteed certain rights under the U.S. Constitution and are entitled to a zealous defense.

At the Law Office of J. Brian Kelley, we understand how much is at stake in your case. Depending on the severity of your crime, you may be facing penalties such as hefty fines, license suspension, or a lengthy prison sentence. A conviction on your public record could have life-long repercussions that make it difficult to find suitable employment, obtain housing or secure financial aid.

Aggressive Criminal Defense For The Accused

 

In order to have a fighting chance to get the charges against you reduced or even dismissed altogether, it’s essential to seek immediate representation from a seasoned criminal defense attorney.

With your reputation, freedom and future all on the line — you owe it to yourself to obtain the best defense possible. 

Lead Attorney J. Brian Kelley has represented countless defendants facing criminal charges in Starkville, MS. As your fierce advocate, he will help you navigate the criminal process and face the charges against you with confidence and hope. Attorney Kelley is a skilled negotiator and tough litigator who has successfully gone toe to toe with prosecutors to achieve positive outcomes for his clients.

Call us today at (662) 324-3476. for a Free consultation.

Criminal Defense Expertise

 

  • Felonies & Misdemeanors
  • DUI Defense
  • Drug Charges
  • Non Adjudication
  • Expungement
  • Traffic Violations

Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

 

Under Mississippi Law, criminal activity falls into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies.  The primary distinction between the two is the severity of the punishment.

A misdemeanor is considered to be a “minor” crime involving little no no violence but still carries the possibility of spending up to one year in a county or city jail and/or a fine of less than $1,000.

A felony is the most serious crime you can be charged with in the state of Mississippi the punishments range from one year to life in prison, even death and/or a fine up to $10,000. If convicted of a felony, you may also lose some of your constitutional rights including the right to vote, serve in the military, or carry a gun.

Misdemeanors in Mississippi include

  • Petit larceny
  • Simple assault
  • Disorderly conduct/Disturbing the peace
  • DUI
  • Prostitution
  • Simple drug possession: less than 30 grams of marijuana
  • Traffic violations
  • Hazing
  • Stalking
  • Embezzlement
  • Carrying a concealed deadly weapon

Felonies in Mississippi include:

  • Capital murder
    • life in prison with or without parole or the death penalty
  • Murder
    • life in prison
  • Manslaughter
    • $500 fine and/or up to one year in jail; or up to 20 years in prison
  • Domestic violence
    • Up to 30 years in prison and/or $10,000 fine
  • Robbery
    • Up to 15 years in prison
  • sexual battery
  • kidnapping
  • aggravated assault
  • robbery
  • grand larceny
  • computer fraud (damages of $500 or more)
    • up to 5 years in prison and/or $10,000 fine
  • Possession of 50 – 150 grams or 100 – 500 dosage units of a Class V Substance (codeine and other less addictive drugs)

 

Criminal Court Procedures

  1. criminal defense lawyer Starkville MSArrest: A police officer will make an arrest if a.) he/she personally witnessed a crime being committed, b.) have probable cause to believe a crime was committed, c.) arrest warrant was issued.
  2. Booking: While in policy custody, you will be booked. This includes being fingerprinted and photographed and put in a police holding cell or jail.
  3. Bail: Depending on the severity of the crime, you may be able to post bail and be released from custody until your first court appearance. If bail is denied, you will remain in custody until your first court appearance.
  4. Arraignment After the arrest, booking and bail phase you will appear at an arraignment hearing before a criminal court judge who will read the charges against you and ask you how you plead.  You will respond, Guilty or Not Guilty.
  5. Potential Plea Bargain: During the arraignment or at any point throughout the case, Attorney Kelley can enter into negotiations with the prosecutor to strike a deal or plea bargain in an attempt to reduce the charges against you. You would agree to plead guilty in exchange for an offer from the prosecutor to either:
    1. drop one or more of the charges
    2. reduce a charge to a less serious offenseMore than 90% of cases are resolved through a plea bargain and never go to trial. As your Attorney, my first priority will always be to get the charges against you dismissed outright but in some circumstances a plea bargain may be the best option. You will never have to accept a deal you are not comfortable with.

6.   Trial: If a plea bargain cannot be reached or you are unsatisfied with the offer, we will proceed to trial where the  District Attorney will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were guilty of the crime you are accused of. You will either be acquitted and found Not Guilty or convicted. Sentencing may include fines, jail or prison time,  community service, probation, or drug/alcohol rehabilitation. A Guilty verdict  can always be appealed to a higher court, the state court of appeals.

How To Beat A DUI Charge in Mississippi

Even though it may feel as if the evidence is stacked against you in a DUI case, there are a number of defense strategies that are proven to be very effective in reducing charges or getting the case dismissed.

Challenge The Legality of The Traffic Stop

The first line of defense for a DUI charge is to prove that the police officer pulled you over illegally. In Mississippi, law enforcement cannot pull a driver over unless they have probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that you violated traffic laws or committed a crime.

If the police officer did not have probable cause or a valid reason for pulling you over, such as swerving, straddling a lane, etc –it would be a violation of your 4th amendment rights or an illegal search and seizure. Therefore, all of the evidence gathered after you were pulled over would be inadmissable in court. Attorney Kelley can file a motion in court to suppress the evidence and the charges against you would be dropped.

Demonstrate The Unreliability of Field Sobriety Tests

If you were asked to take a field sobriety test (FST) after being pulled over, we can challenge the reliability of those results. Field sobriety tests have little to no scientific validity and are largely based on the subjective judgment of the police officer. Many factors can affect the way you behave during these tests — you may just be naturally poorly coordinated or suffer from a medical ailment; you were anxious; there was bad weather conditions, or headlights which affect the lighting.

Fight the validity of the Breathylzer and Blood Tests Results

DUI defense lawyerEven though breathalyzer’s are the most common way to determine if the blood alcohol content (BAC) of drivers is above the legal limit of .08% it is often not very accurate.

A number of factors can make a breathalyzer give out erroneous readings, including:

  • Poor machine calibration
  • you vomited, hiccupped, coughed or burped when the test was administered
  • asthma inhalers, dentures, lip gloss or mouthwash can mislead the breathalyzer
  • the frequency interference of police handheld radios and certain types of cell phones can interfere with reading

Blood test results can also be challenged. Lab results can always have a margin of error and we can certainly investigate to see if your blood sample was improperly collected, stored, handled or contaminated.

Check Video Footage: From the time of arrest to the time of booking, you were probably being video-monitored by a dashcam. We can review the video footage to see if the police officer’s testimony matches up to what really happened. The video can serve as evidence to prove that the officer: made an illegal stop, conducted an illegal search and seizure, did not read you your Miranda rights, improperly administered field sobriety tests or breathlyzer, or did anything else that violated appropriate procedure and conduct.

Are You A First Time Criminal Offender? Avoid Harsh Penalties With A Nonadjudication Program

Mississippi now offers first time non-violent criminal offenders the opportunity to avoid a conviction upon successful completion of a nonadjudication program.

In order to qualify for the Mississippi Adjudication program, the following conditions must be met:

  • Your misdemeanor or felony charge did not involve crime against another person
  • You have no prior felonies
  • You have never participated in nonadjudication before
  • You were never charged with an offense involving the sale of a controlled substance, possession with intent to sell a controlled substance, or simple possession of more than one kilogram of marijuana

If you meet these requirements, you will appear before a judge for a plea hearing and will plead “guilty” to the charges. Instead of accepting your guilty plea, the judge will place you in non-adjudication status and outline certain conditions you must comply with over a certain period of time.

  • No further criminal activity;
  • Pay restitution to any victims;
  • Community service;
  • Pay fines;
  • Pass drug tests; and
  • Complete drug, alcohol or psychological counseling, if necessary.

If you were non-adjudicated for a misdemeanor, you must remain in the program for up to 2 years. If you were non-adjudicated for a felony, you must remain in the program for up to 5 years.

Benefits of completing the program:

  • your case will be dismissed,
  • you will not have a conviction on your record,
  • you will qualify to have your record expunged.

Remove Prior Arrests And Convictions From Your Record With Expungement

Are you tired of answering the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” The stigma associated with having a criminal past can impact every area of your life. You may have found it difficult to get a job, find an apartment or obtain a line of credit.

Luckily, Mississippi law has developed a judicial process called expungement which enables you to erase your criminal record — any arrests or convictions from public view and start over with a clean slate.

Who Is Eligible for Expungement?

  • Mississippi expungement lawyerFirst offenders convicted in any Court, of any misdemeanor (except traffic offenses).
  • Felony and misdemeanor arrests where there was no formal charge; or where there was a charge, but no prosecution followed or the case was dismissed or remanded to the files.
  • A first offense DUI conviction can be expunged 5 years after a successful completion of all terms and conditions set by the court
    • ineligible for expungement if you refused to submit to a blood or breath test; had a blood alcohol concentration above .16%; or have a prior or pending DUI
  • Felony convictions committed under the age of 18
    • excluding rape, sexual battery, murder, manslaughter, burglary, cyberstalking, exploitation of children using computer, armed robbery, violent crime related to distribution of controlled substance

Common Felony Convictions Expunged in Mississippi

The following felony convictions can be expunged for first time offenders:

  • possession of controlled substances
  • larceny
  • bad check offenses
  • false pretenses
  • shoplifting
  • malicious mischief

*You must wait 5 years from the successful completion of all terms and conditions of the sentence, i.e. incarceration, fines, probation.

Common Misdemeanor Convictions Expunged in Mississippi

  • drug possession
  • simple assault
  • resisting arrest
  • shoplifting
  • disturbing the peace.

*You must wait 5 years from the successful completion of all terms and conditions of the sentence, i.e. incarceration, fines, probation.

Drug Crimes in Missississppi

drug crimes defense attorney Starkville MSThe Law Office of J Brian Kelley defends people against all types of drug charges in Mississippi, including

  • Drug possession
  • Drug possession with intent to distribute
  • Narcotics sale or trafficking
  • Distribution
  • Manufacturing or cultivation

Penalties can be quite harsh depending on the type and amount of drug involved.

Under the federal Controlled Substances Act, controlled substances are classified on the basis of 5 schedules. Schedule 1 are the most dangerous drugs with the highest probability of abuse and addition and offer no medicinal value. Schedules 2-4 decrease in their addictiveness but their medicinal value increases.

  • Schedule 1 drugs:  Heroin and LSD
    • Possession of any quantity is a felony
    • Less than .1 gram = 4 years in prison, fines up to $10,000
    • .1 gram to less than 2 grams = 2-8 years in prison and $50,000 in fines
    • 2 grams to 10 grams = 4-16 years in prison and $250,000 in fines
    • 10 to 30 grams = 6-24 years in prison and $500,000 in fines
  • Schedule 2 drugs: Cocaine, Marijuana, Ectasy
    • Possession of very trace quantities is a misdemeanor; can turn into a felony
    • Less than .1 gram = 4 years in prison, fines up to $10,000
    • .1 gram to less than 2 grams = 2-8 years in prison and $50,000 in fines
    • 2 grams to 10 grams = 4-16 years in prison and $250,000 in fines
    • 10 to 30 grams = 6-24 years in prison and $500,000 in fines
  • Schedule 3: anabolic steroids and morphine
    • Possession of over 50 grams is a felony
    • Under 50 grams can result in a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail
  • Schedule 4: Xanax and Valium
    • Possession of over 50 grams is a felony
    • Under 50 grams can result in a $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail
  • Schedule 5: cough suppressants containing small amounts of codeine.

The drug Manufacture, sale, or possession with intent to distribute any Schedule 1-4 drug is a felony. Fines can range from $1,000-$1,000,000. Prison sentences can range from 3-30 years.

Drug Defense Strategies

Facing drug charges can be daunting, but we

  • Unjustified Traffic Stop: police officer did not have probable cause to pull you over
  • Unlawful Search and Seizure: If the evidence against you was obtained without a search warrant, we can file a motion to suppress the evidence which may result in the prosecution reducing or dismissing the charges altogether.
  • Drugs Belong to Someone Else: This is also considered “constructive possession”  when something is deemed to be in your possession because of the circumstances, even though it may not actually be yours.
  • Medicinal Prescription: If you have a prescription for the drug in question, i.e.Oxycodone or Roxicodone, we can try to get your case dismissed.
  • Crime Lab Analysis: the prosecution must prove that the seized substance is indeed the illicit drug they claim it to be.
  • Missing drugs — if the prosecution loses the drugs throughout the course of the trial it may weaken prosecution’s case.
  • Duress or Coercion:  forced or coerced into carrying drugs for someone else, i.e. held at gunpoint
  • Drugs were planted
  • Entrapment: you were tricked by a police officer or informant into committing a crime you wouldn’t otherwise have committed

Mississipi Criminal Defense & DUI Lawyer:

Attorney J. Brian Kelley is a veteran criminal defense lawyer who has helped numerous clients overcome the challenge of being charged with a crime. He will investigate your case thoroughly to determine what the best defense strategy might be, and will work hard to see that the charges against you are dismissed or reduced. Call today for a consultation to discuss the details of your case and to begin building the strongest case possible at (662) 324-3476.