Expungement in Mississippi
The state’s laws allow certain criminal records to be expunged, meaning that the record is sealed from public view and no longer considered to exist for most purposes.
The Mississippi Expunction Law applies to certain non-violent felonies and misdemeanors, including drug possession, petit larceny, and first-time DUI. The exact criteria for expungement can vary depending on the offense and other factors, so it is essential to consult with a legal professional for guidance on whether a particular offense may be eligible for expungement.
Some examples of crimes that can be expunged in Mississippi include:
- Simple drug possession
- Disorderly conduct
- Malicious mischief
- Simple assault
- Larceny (theft)
- Bad check writing
- False pretenses
- Fraudulent use of a credit card
- Identity theft
It’s important to note that some specific conditions and requirements must be met to be eligible for expungement in Mississippi, and the process can be complex. It’s recommended to consult with a criminal defense attorney or legal professional for more information and guidance.
It’s also worth noting that even if a record is expunged, there may be certain circumstances in which the record could still be accessed, such as by law enforcement agencies or in certain background checks.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is the legal removal of criminal and arrest records for specific charges and convictions. When a file is expunged, the individual can claim that the offense and arrest never occurred. This includes stating it in a court of law. Limiting access to the files is also part of the expungement process. The files will be accessible only to certain government agencies without public or law enforcement access. Because expungement is a privilege granted by the court rather than a right, the court has the authority to deny any request for expungement and to determine who is eligible for expungement.
In Mississippi, juvenile records can be destroyed with the help of a youth court order. Records of first-time misdemeanor convictions and drug offenders where the case was dismissed after probation are eligible for expungement. However, according to Mississippi law 99-19-71, an individual’s records may be retained in these circumstances for determining purposes in subsequent proceedings. All public records and records about an indictment, trial, arrest, sentence, or disposition are erasable. However, under Mississippi law 43-21-265, certain juvenile medical or mental health examination records cannot be expunged. There is also no expungement for any violation of implied consent. Records containing sexual offenses that necessitate dissemination are not permitted to be erased.
Eligibility for Expungement
Under Mississippi law, only a small number of cases can be expunged. Cases involving juvenile release and arrest that have been dismissed, had all charges dropped, or had no disposition may be eligible for erasure. However, there can be no pending charges. Except for traffic violations, first-time misdemeanor convictions may be expunged. Any person arrested and released after the case has been dismissed, the charges have been dropped, or the case has not been resolved may apply for expungement.
Exclusions in these circumstances include charging an individual with an offense related to the sale, transfer, barter, manufacture, dispensing, or distribution of a controlled substance or possession with intent to distribute, sell, barter, manufacture, transfer, or dispense a controlled substance under Section 41-29-139. There are three exceptions to this rule: a charge for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, an offense for possession of more than one kilogram of marijuana, or an offense under Mississippi Implied Consent Law 99-19-71.
An individual who has served a sentence or probation period and pled guilty within six months of March 31, 1983, is eligible for expungement. Anyone who has been cited for a misdemeanor but has not been formally charged within twelve months of the arrest or who has had all charges dismissed may be eligible to petition for expungement. Other eligibility conditions may apply.
Petition for Expungement
Juveniles must file an expungement petition with the appropriate court. Those arrested and have had their charges dismissed or dropped must petition the court that handled their case. Individuals must wait before petitioning the court in all other circumstances.
Mississippi Code Annotated § 99-19-71 lists the crimes that are eligible for expungement in Mississippi, which include non-violent crimes such as certain drug offenses, DUIs, and property crimes.
The Mississippi Bar Association provides a helpful guide to expungement in the state, which can be found at the following link: https://www.msbar.org/for-the-public/legal-resources-for-the-public/expungements/.
Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project provides information on expungement and resources for low-income individuals seeking to have their records expunged. Their website can be found at https://www.mvlp.net/expungement/.