What are Arrest Records?
Mississippi arrest records contain a wide variety of information including:
- Date of your arrest
- Charges for which you were arrested
- Police and investigation records
- DNA evidence
- Date of birth
- County of offense
- Disposition and date of disposition
- Probation status
- If your case was dismissed or if you were acquitted of all charges.
Any member of the public can view arrest and criminal records pursuant to the Mississippi Public Records Act. In some cases, you can access these records back to 1982. They are also updated monthly.
For comprehensive arrest record search in Mississipi, you can visit any number of websites but the most reliable may be at the site for the State Department of Health at http://www.msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/30,0,206.html. All requests start with the subject's fingerprints, which can be taken manually or by electronic scan.
Complete criminal records in Mississippi are limited to authorized law enforcement entities, state and federal agencies and to entities who are required under Mississippi law to perform background checks on those seeking employment involving children or the elderly. If you are an employer, you can view all state convictions since 1998 but only arrest records that are less than one year old.
If you have the time or inclination, you can view anyone's criminal record at the courthouse's records department or clerk's office where computers are publicly available for you to search by name and case number.
Otherwise, you can view anyone's arrest records online after paying a fee. Although arrest records in Mississippi are not evidence of wrongdoing or of questionable conduct, they do offer you a window on someone's character especially if the charges involved a serious crime. You should review the complete record, however, to see if the charges were dismissed or the person found not guilty since many arrests do not culminate in a prosecution for any number of reasons.
What is an Arrest Warrant?
Arrest warrants in Mississippi are executed pursuant to Mississippi Code of 1972-41-29-159. Warrants may be served or executed by any officer or employee of the MS Bureau of Investigation; investigative units of the State Board of Pharmacy, Medical Licensure, Board of Optometry and Dental Examiners; and any enforcement officer of the Department of Transportation, highway patrol or any other sworn peace officer of the state of Mississippi.
The process of obtaining a Mississippi arrest warrant begins with a law enforcement officer, or civilian, signing an affidavit attesting that someone violated the law. A judge will review the affidavit to determine if sufficient, or probable cause, exists to establish that a crime was committed and that the person named or sufficiently described in the affidavit committed the crime.
There are some safeguards where the individual alleged to have committed the crime is a police officer, school teacher, jail officer, or counselor at an adolescent offender program. Under Mississippi Code Annotated Section 99-3-28, no arrest warrants may be issued for these individuals if the alleged crime occurred while they were engaged in the performance of their official duties until a probable cause hearing is held before a circuit court judge. The accused individual is given notice of the hearing and may testify or present evidence in his or her defense.
Bench Warrants in Mississippi
Another type of arrest warrant is a bench warrant issued by the judge before whom you were supposed to appear. By not appearing, you are in contempt of court and a bench warrant is immediately issued. This allows police to arrest you anywhere and at any time, even in your home, business or car. There is no statute of limitations on bench warrants and they only expire when you are apprehended or appear at your court appearance if you are able to have your name added to the court docket.
How to Search for an Inmate in the Mississippi Prison System
The MS Department of Corrections maintains an extensive online site at http://www.mdoc.ms.gov/Pages/default.aspx where you can easily look up an inmate
in the Mississippi correctional system. It also has a list of death row inmates with photographs and charges for which they were given a capital sentence.
For other inmates, simply enter the person's full name and the site will find all inmates with that name, Click on the name and you will view the inmate's photograph, inmate ID, date of birth, physical description, location where they are being incarcerated, term of sentence, charge for which they were convicted, county of conviction and tentative release date. You can also be notified of the inmate's release date and of any parole hearings or other proceeding pertaining to early release if you wish.
How to Find Mississippi Arrest Warrants
Arrest warrants can be issued for any number of crimes including relatively minor ones like outstanding speeding tickets or for simply forgetting to pay a fine. You may not even be aware of the existence of a Mississippi outstanding warrant on your name until you are stopped for a traffic violation and handcuffs are suddenly applied. In fact, many "fugitives" are caught in this manner.
If you know that you have an outstanding ticket because the DMV sent you a notice that you ignored, or you failed to appear in court, it is a good idea to check to see if there is a Mississippi active warrant on your name, whether it is an outstanding or a bench warrant.
Checking at the courthouse or police station is inadvisable since you will be arrested on the spot. If a friend checks for you, it is possible that a police officer will question your friend about your location and he or she may have to give up information or risk impeding an investigation.
You can call the clerk of court in the county where you believe the warrant may have been issued, or the police department. Generally, no questions will be asked over the phone.
If a Mississippi bench or arrest warrant has been issued for a failure to pay outstanding traffic tickets, you can ask for the amount owed. You may be able to arrange to get on the court's docket for an appearance for the following court date but be prepared to pay the outstanding amount due in full.
For serious crimes, you should contact a criminal defense attorney or the public defender's office if you are indigent or have qualified and used their services in the past for advice. Although the public defender cannot defend you until appointed, you may be able to use other low-income legal services for representation. Your attorney can inquire about the warrant and if bail is available. If so, your lawyer can make bail arrangements. Your lawyer can also discuss your surrender with the prosecuting attorney so that your detention is minimal and if bail can be negotiated.
Getting a Mississippi Arrest Record Expunged
If you have an arrest record, it is essential that you take all steps to have these records expunged. An expungement is a court order sealing or rendering inaccessible to the general public your arrest records and in some cases misdemeanor and some felony convictions under certain conditions.
You are mistaken if you believe your arrest record has been wiped clean or deleted from your public record if you were arrested and the charges dropped or dismissed or you were found not guilty at trial. There is no automatic expungement and your record remains for public viewing by any employer, landlord, credit agency, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or college officials to view and to deny you a job, housing, credit, college admission or residency status. Admission officials for professional schools such as for accounting, nursing, law or medical may deny you admission simply based on your arrest record.
Even if your record only indicates an arrest in Mississippi, the person conducting the background check may not know or care to inquire further if the arrest led to prosecution and conviction.
Mississippi law permits the expungement of arrest records if the charges were non-adjudicated, dismissed, remanded or resolved following pretrial diversion.Also, your juvenile arrest record may only be expunged if the charges were dismissed or dropped, and you are at least 21 and have no other pending charges.
If your case was in drug court and your completed all requirements, however, your arrest and other records may be automatically expunged and the presiding judge will advise you of that fact.
In all other cases, it is best to retain a criminal defense attorney who knows the process of expungement in your county. Once your record is expunged, the law presumes that you are now occupying the status you were in before your arrest. You may also state or testify under oath or under most circumstances that you have never been arrested. Only if you are applying for employment in the US military, a public agency or for a professional license or citizenship are you required to disclose your arrest record if it is requested, though you can also state that such records have been expunged.