Happy Monday, parents! Classes are back in full swing after a much-needed week of Spring Break! We hope all of your students had a nice, enjoyable time – but just in case they ran into trouble, we wanted to offer some helpful advice in today’s article. Our friend Dwight Ball is Mississippi attorney with a long, successful track record for helping students with any criminal-related issues they might run into. Mr. Ball has been practicing law for almost 50 years, and has seen just about everything when it comes to young adults getting into trouble and helping them through the legal ramifications of making some bad decisions. Read below for some advice he’d like to offer you parents, in the case you might need it in the future.
My child has been charged with a criminal offense. WHAT DO I DO?
By: Dwight N. Ball, Attorney at Law
I have been a criminal lawyer for the past 50 years and have been asked the above question by many thousands of parents. If your son or daughter has been arrested, given a ticket, citation, post-arrest citation, etc. - they might need your help. They have been charged with one or more criminal offenses and been given a time and date to appear before a certain court. I strongly recommend that you immediatelycontact me or not another criminal attorney of your choice to learn and fully understand your child’s options.
The first reaction parents often have is shock; followed by disbelief and, quite often, anger. I am here to explain the offenses, what court the child is going before, explain their first appearance before the court, discuss and clarify the facts that the child has relayed to the parent, and make an immediate appointment to see the student. At the same time, I have to obtain a copy of the offense report prepared by law enforcement and go over the papers given to the student. I then discussed with the student what the police had to say about the incident as well as the crimes and criminal procedure(s). The next step is that I immediately contact the parent and explain the entire situation. An experience criminal attorney will know what questions to ask and what information to obtain so they can properly guide the parent and student throughout the entire process.
For example, let’s say that your son or daughter is charged with criminal offense of driving under the influence of alcohol or other substance (in the state of Mississippi). You do not want your son or daughter to be convictedof this very serious offense. If convicted, this will remain on their criminal record forever, it cannot be expunged. Many people are under the mistaken belief that after five years from the date of conviction that it will no longer be of importance. This is wrong!The “five-year-rule” means that if you were convicted of another DUI within five years of the first DUI you were looking at a charge for DUI-2nd; in which the charge carries mandatory jail time, loss of driving privileges etc. And the reality of this offense the experienced criminal attorney will either try the case or enter a Nonadjudicationof the DUI arrest. In the nonadjudication process, the attorney enters, with a student, a plea of guilty but the plea is not accepted by the court; it is held in abeyance by the court. The court imposes court costs and mandatory classes. The mandatory classes include MASEP (drunk-driving school) classes that may be taken in Mississippi as well as any other state. There are four classes to take, each on a week night from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at a cost of $200. These classes are in a classroom setting usually at a local school. The same applies for the VIP (victim impact panel) class, usually a one-time class, at the cost of $50. The last requirement is the loss of privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Mississippi for 120 days OR the installation of ignition interlock. The ignition interlock system is a device that is put on the underside of the student’s vehicle. A tube runs into the vehicle alongside the steering column. Each time the student wishes to turn on the ignition, he or she must first blow a clear sample into the tube’s mouthpiece. It must remain in the vehicle for a period of 120 days.
Bottom line: You do not want a criminal conviction for any criminal offense on your record. Whether or not the student is found guilty and the case is it dismissed, you do not want to have it as a matter of record. Something I very strongly recommend to all parents is to get any arrest, conviction or anything else having to do with a criminal offense EXPUNGED! A criminal conviction on your record may affect employment opportunities and much more. The expungement destroys the records of law-enforcement pertaining to the student. Also, the expungement destroys the court records pertaining to the student. The student has “returned to original status in the law.” In other words, they have returned to the day before he or she was ever charge for a crime by the law enforcement agency.
Whatever you do, contact me, or another attorney of your choice, and consult as to the proper course of action that should be taken concerning the matter. I do not charge the initial consultation. If you contact another attorney, make sure to ask if there is a fee or charge for a consult. It is imperative to have the most informed opinion possible before taking any steps in what is sure to be a traumatic time of your child’s life.
Dwight N. Ball has proudly served as a Mississippi attorney for almost 50 years. From his work as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, to his 29 years teaching law at the University of Mississippi; Dwight N. Ball has been at the forefront of the Mississippi legal world. Learn more at www.dwightnball.com or call him directly at (662) 234-7777.