First-time DUI offenders have a number of ways of limiting the impact a DUI conviction has on their record. In Mississippi, first-time DUI offenders who are eligible can participate in the non-adjudication program. Many offenders opt for non-adjudication because at the end of a successful program, the offender avoids a conviction. It, therefore, acts as a diversion program that other states apply to other first-time, non-violent charges. It allows first-time offenders a chance to keep a clean record. At the same time, it also increases judicial economy because courts are not fully prosecuting offenders who have a high likelihood of not offending again.
The Non-Adjudication Statute
Mississippi's non-adjudication statute is found in the Mississippi Code Annotated Section 63-11-30. The statute permits a judge in a DUI case to withhold guilt even when all elements of the DUI statute have been met to substantiate a guilty verdict.
Eligibility for Non-Adjudication
To become eligible for non-adjudication, the person must be a first-time offender. The defendant can not have any prior non-adjudication on his or her criminal record. In addition, the person must not have any prior convictions or any DUI charges pending. Even with evidence that the offender has no priors, the offender must provide justification as to why non-adjudication is an appropriate course of action in his or her case. To advance these justifications, the offender and his or her attorney will present the court with mitigating factors surrounding the case itself as well as the offender's lack of criminal history. Before non-adjudication is final, the court will impose conditions on the offender. Upon successful completion, the charge is dismissed or not adjudicated. These conditions include:
A $250.00 non-adjudication fee,
Fines and court costs based on what would have been imposed based on a conviction,
A requirement to enroll and complete the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education program within six months,
An imposed suspended license for 120 days, and
Any such requirement the court may deem as appropriate given the circumstances.
Real Life Considerations
The non-adjudication statute is a privilege for individuals the court seeks to prevent from becoming repeat offenders. The incentive of being able to avoid a DUI on one's record should encourage the offender against offending again. That is because he or she has already been through the system and is now aware of what could have been. Instead of a punishment school of thought, non-adjudication is based on rehabilitative ideas that seek to prevent offenders from coming through the system a second or third time. If you are a first-time DUI offender in Mississippi, it is wise to take your chances at non-adjudication seriously.
Your DUI Attorney
Attorney James Robert Ferguson is an experienced DUI attorney with years of experience defending DUI cases. Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime. If you have been charged with DUI, you need an experienced attorney. Non-adjudication may be an option for you if this is your first DUI offense. Attorney Ferguson understands the importance of putting the charge behind you. Call us now for a consultation.