Sobriety checkpoints, also known as DUI checkpoints, or more commonly “roadblocks” refer to the temporary stops intended to locate drunk drivers and to keep them off the road. Many people question the legality of such checkpoints or roadblocks and whether they are permitted, the simple answer is yes they are (in Mississippi).
In the event you find yourself facing a DUI roadblock, there are several things to keep in mind. First, be polite, while most people have stories of an unpleasant experience with a stop or other interaction with a police officer, being aggressive will only hurt your position, remember, in the event you have been drinking you are not going to win your case at this point. Second, answering questions is voluntary. Submitting to a breath test is also voluntary, however, if you refuse your license will be suspended.
If you find yourself facing DUI charges, Haymans and Company, PLLC can help obtain the best outcome available to you and minimize any possible consequences.
As has been discussed in previous posts, “simple assault” is a misdemeanor resulting from a person: knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another, negligently causing bodily injury to another with a weapon, or even threatening a person in such a manor that they fear serious bodily harm. The injuries in simple assault cases are generally not particularly serious, but can still leave you with a conviction on your record and facing penalties such as: up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $500.00, or both.
While the above listed actions can lead to you being charged with misdemeanor simple assault, if the facts change slightly, you can find yourself facing felony charges even when your actions have not changed. In the event you engage in actions which would be considered simple assault, but the victim is an elected official, law enforcement, emergency medical personnel, a social worker, or a teacher then your actions can be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Facing criminal charges is a serious situation and one which can cause a great deal of anxiety for the defendant as well as their family. During these times it is important to select the right criminal defense attorney to help guide you through the court system and to obtain the best results for your case.
Some things to consider when choosing a criminal defense attorney include the resources available to your criminal defense lawyer, does he/she have sufficient staff to handle your case? Does he/she have investigators available to assign to your case? Will you be able to get in touch with your attorney?
At Haymans & Company, PLLC we have the resources and staff of a much larger firm, but still give your case the individual attention it deserves.
Following the initial stop and an officer’s suspicion that you are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, you may find yourself facing a breath test. Under Mississippi’s implied consent law the police have the right to request that you submit to a breath test. You will also likely be informed that your refusal to submit will result in losing your license for 90 days.
The breath test is generally performed with the use of a breathalyzer, or even more specifically the “intoxilyzer”. In the event you submit to the test and the breathalyzer determines that your blood alcohol level is 0.08 or more the police and the prosecution will have a strong piece of evidence which may be able to be used against you. However, just because you have “failed” a breath test does not mean that you will absolutely be convicted of DUI. There are a number of defenses available which are specific to attacking the results of a breath test.
When defending against a breathalyzer reading, several questions should be asked, including: was the breathalyzer properly calibrated? Did the police officer follow the proper guidelines for observation prior to administering the test? Was the officer properly licensed and trained in the use of the breathalyzer? If the answer to any of these questions in “no”, then the results of the breathalyzer test may be inadmissible as evidence or at least cast doubt on the results.
Being charged with a DUI in Mississippi is very serious and if convicted can have far reaching consequences. Accordingly, it is important to know what options and defenses are available to you as a defendant.
In order to be found guilty of Driving Under the Influence the prosecution must prove that you were operating or in control of a motor vehicle and that you were under the influence while doing so. Also, the officer must have had a legal reason for pulling you over to begin with.
Most people have heard the term “probable cause” and understand it to apply to a police officer making an arrest or a search of a person or place. However, a police officer need only have “reasonable suspicion” in order to legally pull over a driver suspected of being under the influence. While reasonable suspicion is a lower standard than probable cause, it still has to be more than just a “hunch” or a “feeling”, in fact, an officer must be able to give specific and articulable facts as to why he/she pulled you over. Without this, the entire stop may have been illegal and the charges against you may be dismissed.
In our previous post we discussed Simple Assault, a related crime is that of Domestic Violence. In Mississippi Domestic Violence is an action which meets the definition of Simple Assault, but also has the element of the Simple Assault being committed against a person with whom the Defendant has a certain type of relationship. This relationship factor is broad in nature and includes: Current or former spouse; Current or former domestic partner; Current or former dating partner; Anyone related by blood or adoption to the Defendant; Foster parents; Step parents; Anyone who currently resides or used to reside with the Defendant; or Grandparents, parents, children or grandchildren of the Defendant.
While the punishment for a Domestic Violence conviction includes up to a $500.00 fine and imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months, the accompanying ramifications can be much further reaching. A person convicted of Domestic Violence could face other consequences such as weaker custody or visitation rights, reduced employment opportunities, money damages, or even the loss of your right to own or possess a firearm.
In Mississippi simple assault is defined as:
(1) A person is guilty of simple assault if he (a) attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or (b) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; or (c) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; and, upon conviction, he shall be punished by a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months, or both.
Most commonly simple assault causes bodily injury without the use of a weapon. It usually involves minor injuries such as bruises and scrapes. Accordingly, simple assault is a misdemeanor. As such, simple assault can carry from zero to six months of jail time. However, the most likely scenario for a first time offender is to have that sentence suspended rather than actually facing jail time.
Many people wonder if they can be charged with “possession of a controlled substance” if they were merely a passenger in a vehicle where such items were found. The short answer is yes you can be. Even when you are a passenger in a vehicle and no illegal substances or items are found on you, you can still be charged with and convicted of possession under the theory of “constructive possession.”
In order for the prosecution to show that you were in “constructive possession” of the prohibited item they will attempt to show three (3) things: 1. That you were aware of the presence of, as well as the character of the prohibited item. Meaning that you knew drugs were present in the vehicle and that you knew that they were a controlled substance. 2. The prosecution must also prove that you exercised dominion or control over the substance. A couple of ways the prosecution may go about proving this is by showing your fingerprints were on the prohibited substance or its container, or perhaps the vehicle in which they were found was in your name. 3. Lastly, the prosecution will attempt to show that you were in close proximity to the prohibited substance, close enough to exercise control over it.
The advocacy group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) ranks the states in an annual report concerning how strict the DUI laws are in various states.
MADD in determining the rankings considers a number of factors, including the amount of special training officers receive in detecting signs and behaviors of drunk drivers, the required use of interlock systems, the frequency of sobriety check points and the severity of punishments for those convicted of Driving While Impaired (DWI).
All factors considered, Mothers Against Drunk Driving concluded that Mississippi has instituted policies which MADD finds to be the most beneficial in cracking-down on DUI/DWI offenders.
Generally speaking, Mississippi has several forms or types of DUI’s or Driving Under the Influence crimes, including: DUI/DWI First Offense, this is driving while over the legal blood alcohol content level which is 0.08. There is also what is referred to as DUI Other and is similar to alcohol related DUI offenses but applies when the substance a driver is under the influence of is other than alcohol. A DUI Second Offense refers to a situation in which you receive a DUI and you have received a previous DUI within the past 5 years. A DUI Third Offense, as you can imagine, is what you face is you receive a DUI after previously having two DUI’s within the prior 5 years. When you reach DUI Third Offense you have crossed over into the real of felonies and can face up to 5 years in prison.