Mississippi DUI: Should I Hire an Attorney for a First Offense?

Posted by James Ferguson | Sep 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

If you have just been charged with drunk driving in Mississippi, you may be feeling apprehensive or even scared. You might not know what to expect or what to do next, especially if this is the first blemish on your criminal record. A DUI is a serious offense, and Mississippi has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country. Many people wonder if it is worth the expense to hire an attorney to represent them for a first DUI offense. However, most of those who have “been there, done that” will tell you an expert legal defense is worth every penny. Only you can decide if self-representation is right for you, but this post offers some considerations to keep in mind.

Can I Represent Myself?

Legally, you are allowed to represent yourself. Remember the court will require you to follow all rules of evidence and procedure. The prosecutors and judge will not “go easy on you” simply because you show up without an attorney. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will possess expert knowledge on how to proceed in your individual case to obtain the best results.

Can I Use a Public Defender?

Not everyone is guaranteed free counsel from a public defender. You will first have to prove that you cannot afford to pay for legal services. Even if you can demonstrate that you are indigent, you may not qualify for a public defender if you do not stand to serve any jail time. For a first DUI offense, chances are low that you will serve any time in jail. In Mississippi, public defense services can vary widely between different counties and jurisdictions. Typically, public defense attorneys are overworked and underpaid, so they may not be able to dedicate as much time or effort to your case as a private attorney.

What is at Stake on a First DUI Conviction?

Mississippi state law dictates the penalties for a first DUI conviction. However, the judge will make certain determinations based on the unique circumstances of your case. When you hire a defense attorney, he or she will exercise expert judgement and argue on your behalf to secure a lighter sentence. This includes:

Possible defenses: An experienced lawyer will analyze the facts, law, and equity of your case and fight for the best possible outcome.
Fines ($250-$1000): An attorney may be able to secure a lower fine for you.
Jail time (up to 48 hours): The judge is able to order up to 48 hours of jail time for a first DUI offense.
Suspension of license: Your driver's license will be suspended, but a judge may allow you to drive with an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
Other conditions: The judge has the ability to make other rulings based on his or her discretion. These decisions could include court-ordered probation, community service, rehab, or other requirements based on your individual circumstances.

Mississippi DUI Defense Lawyer

James Robert Ferguson is a dedicated, experienced defense attorney ready to defend those charged with a DUI in Mississippi. Contact him today for a free and confidential consultation.

See related blog posts:
Three Factors of Successful DUI Defense
Mississippi DUI Penalties

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.

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