WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.
Let us know: How can WomensLaw better serve you during these difficult times?

Legal Information: Mississippi

Statutes: Mississippi

View by section

Statutes: Mississippi

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

The Statutes and Constitution are current through the 2019 Regular Session.

Title 1. Laws and Statutes

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Chapter 3. Construction of Statutes

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

1-3-11. “Felony” defined

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

The term “felony,” when used in any statute, shall mean any violation of law punished with death or confinement in the penitentiary.

Title 45. Public Safety and Good Order

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Chapter 9. Weapons

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

License to Carry Concealed Pistol or Revolver

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

45-9-101. Licensing generally

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1)(a) Except as otherwise provided, the Department of Public Safety is authorized to issue licenses to carry stun guns, concealed pistols or revolvers to persons qualified as provided in this section. Such licenses shall be valid throughout the state for a period of five (5) years from the date of issuance. Any person possessing a valid license issued pursuant to this section may carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or concealed revolver.

(b) The licensee must carry the license, together with valid identification, at all times in which the licensee is carrying a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver and must display both the license and proper identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer. A violation of the provisions of this paragraph (b) shall constitute a noncriminal violation with a penalty of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) and shall be enforceable by summons.

(2) The Department of Public Safety shall issue a license if the applicant:

(a) Is a resident of the state. However, this residency requirement may be waived if the applicant possesses a valid permit from another state, is active military personnel stationed in Mississippi, or is a retired law enforcement officer establishing residency in the state;

(b)(i) Is twenty-one (21) years of age or older; or

(ii) Is at least eighteen (18) years of age but not yet twenty-one (21) years of age and the applicant:

1. Is a member or veteran of the United States Armed Forces, including National Guard or Reserve; and

2. Holds a valid Mississippi driver’s license or identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety;

(c) Does not suffer from a physical infirmity which prevents the safe handling of a stun gun, pistol or revolver;

(d) Is not ineligible to possess a firearm by virtue of having been convicted of a felony in a court of this state, of any other state, or of the United States without having been pardoned for same;

(e) Does not chronically or habitually abuse controlled substances to the extent that his normal faculties are impaired. It shall be presumed that an applicant chronically and habitually uses controlled substances to the extent that his faculties are impaired if the applicant has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a treatment facility for the abuse of a controlled substance or been found guilty of a crime under the provisions of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law or similar laws of any other state or the United States relating to controlled substances within a three-year period immediately preceding the date on which the application is submitted;

(f) Does not chronically and habitually use alcoholic beverages to the extent that his normal faculties are impaired. It shall be presumed that an applicant chronically and habitually uses alcoholic beverages to the extent that his normal faculties are impaired if the applicant has been voluntarily or involuntarily committed as an alcoholic to a treatment facility or has been convicted of two (2) or more offenses related to the use of alcohol under the laws of this state or similar laws of any other state or the United States within the three-year period immediately preceding the date on which the application is submitted;

(g) Desires a legal means to carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver to defend himself;

(h) Has not been adjudicated mentally incompetent, or has waited five (5) years from the date of his restoration to capacity by court order;

(i) Has not been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a mental institution or mental health treatment facility unless he possesses a certificate from a psychiatrist licensed in this state that he has not suffered from disability for a period of five (5) years;

(j) Has not had adjudication of guilt withheld or imposition of sentence suspended on any felony unless three (3) years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled;

(k) Is not a fugitive from justice; and

(l) Is not disqualified to possess a weapon based on federal law.

(3) The Department of Public Safety may deny a license if the applicant has been found guilty of one or more crimes of violence constituting a misdemeanor unless three (3) years have elapsed since probation or any other conditions set by the court have been fulfilled or expunction has occurred prior to the date on which the application is submitted, or may revoke a license if the licensee has been found guilty of one or more crimes of violence within the preceding three (3) years. The department shall, upon notification by a law enforcement agency or a court and subsequent written verification, suspend a license or the processing of an application for a license if the licensee or applicant is arrested or formally charged with a crime which would disqualify such person from having a license under this section, until final disposition of the case. The provisions of subsection (7) of this section shall apply to any suspension or revocation of a license pursuant to the provisions of this section.

(4) The application shall be completed, under oath, on a form promulgated by the Department of Public Safety and shall include only:

(a) The name, address, place and date of birth, race, sex and occupation of the applicant;

(b) The driver’s license number or social security number of applicant;

(c) Any previous address of the applicant for the two (2) years preceding the date of the application;

(d) A statement that the applicant is in compliance with criteria contained within subsections (2) and (3) of this section;

(e) A statement that the applicant has been furnished a copy of this section and is knowledgeable of its provisions;

(f) A conspicuous warning that the application is executed under oath and that a knowingly false answer to any question, or the knowing submission of any false document by the applicant, subjects the applicant to criminal prosecution; and

(g) A statement that the applicant desires a legal means to carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver to defend himself.

(5) The applicant shall submit only the following to the Department of Public Safety:

(a) A completed application as described in subsection (4) of this section;

(b) A full-face photograph of the applicant taken within the preceding thirty (30) days in which the head, including hair, in a size as determined by the Department of Public Safety, except that an applicant who is younger than twenty-one (21) years of age must submit a photograph in profile of the applicant;

(c) A nonrefundable license fee of Eighty Dollars ($80.00). Costs for processing the set of fingerprints as required in paragraph (d) of this subsection shall be borne by the applicant. Honorably retired law enforcement officers, disabled veterans and active duty members of the Armed Forces of the United States shall be exempt from the payment of the license fee;

(d) A full set of fingerprints of the applicant administered by the Department of Public Safety; and

(e) A waiver authorizing the Department of Public Safety access to any records concerning commitments of the applicant to any of the treatment facilities or institutions referred to in subsection (2) and permitting access to all the applicant’s criminal records.

(6)(a) The Department of Public Safety, upon receipt of the items listed in subsection (5) of this section, shall forward the full set of fingerprints of the applicant to the appropriate agencies for state and federal processing.

(b) The Department of Public Safety shall forward a copy of the applicant’s application to the sheriff of the applicant’s county of residence and, if applicable, the police chief of the applicant’s municipality of residence. The sheriff of the applicant’s county of residence and, if applicable, the police chief of the applicant’s municipality of residence may, at his discretion, participate in the process by submitting a voluntary report to the Department of Public Safety containing any readily discoverable prior information that he feels may be pertinent to the licensing of any applicant. The reporting shall be made within thirty (30) days after the date he receives the copy of the application. Upon receipt of a response from a sheriff or police chief, such sheriff or police chief shall be reimbursed at a rate set by the department.

(c) The Department of Public Safety shall, within forty-five (45) days after the date of receipt of the items listed in subsection (5) of this section:

(i) Issue the license;

(ii) Deny the application based solely on the ground that the applicant fails to qualify under the criteria listed in subsections (2) and (3) of this section. If the Department of Public Safety denies the application, it shall notify the applicant in writing, stating the ground for denial, and the denial shall be subject to the appeal process set forth in subsection (7); or

(iii) Notify the applicant that the department is unable to make a determination regarding the issuance or denial of a license within the forty-five-day period prescribed by this subsection, and provide an estimate of the amount of time the department will need to make the determination.

(d) In the event a legible set of fingerprints, as determined by the Department of Public Safety and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, cannot be obtained after a minimum of two (2) attempts, the Department of Public Safety shall determine eligibility based upon a name check by the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol and a Federal Bureau of Investigation name check conducted by the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol at the request of the Department of Public Safety.

(7)(a) If the Department of Public Safety denies the issuance of a license, or suspends or revokes a license, the party aggrieved may appeal such denial, suspension or revocation to the Commissioner of Public Safety, or his authorized agent, within thirty (30) days after the aggrieved party receives written notice of such denial, suspension or revocation. The Commissioner of Public Safety, or his duly authorized agent, shall rule upon such appeal within thirty (30) days after the appeal is filed and failure to rule within this thirty-day period shall constitute sustaining such denial, suspension or revocation. Such review shall be conducted pursuant to such reasonable rules and regulations as the Commissioner of Public Safety may adopt.

(b) If the revocation, suspension or denial of issuance is sustained by the Commissioner of Public Safety, or his duly authorized agent pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection, the aggrieved party may file within ten (10) days after the rendition of such decision a petition in the circuit or county court of his residence for review of such decision. A hearing for review shall be held and shall proceed before the court without a jury upon the record made at the hearing before the Commissioner of Public Safety or his duly authorized agent. No such party shall be allowed to carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver pursuant to the provisions of this section while any such appeal is pending.

(8) The Department of Public Safety shall maintain an automated listing of license holders and such information shall be available online, upon request, at all times, to all law enforcement agencies through the Mississippi Crime Information Center. However, the records of the department relating to applications for licenses to carry stun guns, concealed pistols or revolvers and records relating to license holders shall be exempt from the provisions of the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983, and shall be released only upon order of a court having proper jurisdiction over a petition for release of the record or records.

(9) Within thirty (30) days after the changing of a permanent address, or within thirty (30) days after having a license lost or destroyed, the licensee shall notify the Department of Public Safety in writing of such change or loss. Failure to notify the Department of Public Safety pursuant to the provisions of this subsection shall constitute a noncriminal violation with a penalty of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) and shall be enforceable by a summons.

(10) In the event that a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver license is lost or destroyed, the person to whom the license was issued shall comply with the provisions of subsection (9) of this section and may obtain a duplicate, or substitute thereof, upon payment of Fifteen Dollars ($15.00) to the Department of Public Safety, and furnishing a notarized statement to the department that such license has been lost or destroyed.

(11) A license issued under this section shall be revoked if the licensee becomes ineligible under the criteria set forth in subsection (2) of this section.

(12)(a) No less than ninety (90) days prior to the expiration date of the license, the Department of Public Safety shall mail to each licensee a written notice of the expiration and a renewal form prescribed by the department. The licensee must renew his license on or before the expiration date by filing with the department the renewal form, a notarized affidavit stating that the licensee remains qualified pursuant to the criteria specified in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, and a full set of fingerprints administered by the Department of Public Safety or the sheriff of the county of residence of the licensee. The first renewal may be processed by mail and the subsequent renewal must be made in person. Thereafter every other renewal may be processed by mail to assure that the applicant must appear in person every ten (10) years for the purpose of obtaining a new photograph.

(i) Except as provided in this subsection, a renewal fee of Forty Dollars ($40.00) shall also be submitted along with costs for processing the fingerprints;

(ii) Honorably retired law enforcement officers, disabled veterans and active duty members of the Armed Forces of the United States shall be exempt from the renewal fee; and

(iii) The renewal fee for a Mississippi resident aged sixty-five (65) years of age or older shall be Twenty Dollars ($20.00).

(b) The Department of Public Safety shall forward the full set of fingerprints of the applicant to the appropriate agencies for state and federal processing. The license shall be renewed upon receipt of the completed renewal application and appropriate payment of fees.

(c) A licensee who fails to file a renewal application on or before its expiration date must renew his license by paying a late fee of Fifteen Dollars ($15.00). No license shall be renewed six (6) months or more after its expiration date, and such license shall be deemed to be permanently expired. A person whose license has been permanently expired may reapply for licensure; however, an application for licensure and fees pursuant to subsection (5) of this section must be submitted, and a background investigation shall be conducted pursuant to the provisions of this section.

(13) No license issued pursuant to this section shall authorize any person to carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver into any place of nuisance as defined in Section 95-3-1, Mississippi Code of 1972; any police, sheriff or highway patrol station; any detention facility, prison or jail; any courthouse; any courtroom, except that nothing in this section shall preclude a judge from carrying a concealed weapon or determining who will carry a concealed weapon in his courtroom; any polling place; any meeting place of the governing body of any governmental entity; any meeting of the Legislature or a committee thereof; any school, college or professional athletic event not related to firearms; any portion of an establishment, licensed to dispense alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises, that is primarily devoted to dispensing alcoholic beverages; any portion of an establishment in which beer or light wine is consumed on the premises, that is primarily devoted to such purpose; any elementary or secondary school facility; any junior college, community college, college or university facility unless for the purpose of participating in any authorized firearms-related activity; inside the passenger terminal of any airport, except that no person shall be prohibited from carrying any legal firearm into the terminal if the firearm is encased for shipment, for purposes of checking such firearm as baggage to be lawfully transported on any aircraft; any church or other place of worship, except as provided in Section 45-9-171; or any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law. In addition to the places enumerated in this subsection, the carrying of a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver may be disallowed in any place in the discretion of the person or entity exercising control over the physical location of such place by the placing of a written notice clearly readable at a distance of not less than ten (10) feet that the “carrying of a pistol or revolver is prohibited.” No license issued pursuant to this section shall authorize the participants in a parade or demonstration for which a permit is required to carry a stun gun, concealed pistol or revolver.

(14) A law enforcement officer as defined in Section 45-6-3, chiefs of police, sheriffs and persons licensed as professional bondsmen pursuant to Chapter 39, Title 83, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall be exempt from the licensing requirements of this section. The licensing requirements of this section do not apply to the carrying by any person of a stun gun, pistol or revolver, knife, or other deadly weapon that is not concealed as defined in Section 97-37-1.

(15) Any person who knowingly submits a false answer to any question on an application for a license issued pursuant to this section, or who knowingly submits a false document when applying for a license issued pursuant to this section, shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in Section 99-19-31, Mississippi Code of 1972.

(16) All fees collected by the Department of Public Safety pursuant to this section shall be deposited into a special fund hereby created in the State Treasury and shall be used for implementation and administration of this section. After the close of each fiscal year, the balance in this fund shall be certified to the Legislature and then may be used by the Department of Public Safety as directed by the Legislature.

(17) All funds received by a sheriff or police chief pursuant to the provisions of this section shall be deposited into the general fund of the county or municipality, as appropriate, and shall be budgeted to the sheriff’s office or police department as appropriate.

(18) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require or allow the registration, documentation or providing of serial numbers with regard to any stun gun or firearm.

(19) Any person holding a valid unrevoked and unexpired license to carry stun guns, concealed pistols or revolvers issued in another state shall have such license recognized by this state to carry stun guns, concealed pistols or revolvers. The Department of Public Safety is authorized to enter into a reciprocal agreement with another state if that state requires a written agreement in order to recognize licenses to carry stun guns, concealed pistols or revolvers issued by this state.

(20) The provisions of this section shall be under the supervision of the Commissioner of Public Safety. The commissioner is authorized to promulgate reasonable rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this section.

(21) For the purposes of this section, the term “stun gun” means a portable device or weapon from which an electric current, impulse, wave or beam may be directed, which current, impulse, wave or beam is designed to incapacitate temporarily, injure, momentarily stun, knock out, cause mental disorientation or paralyze.

(22)(a) From and after January 1, 2016, the Commissioner of Public Safety shall promulgate rules and regulations which provide that licenses authorized by this section for honorably retired law enforcement officers and honorably retired correctional officers from the Mississippi Department of Corrections shall (i) include the words “retired law enforcement officer” on the front of the license, and (ii) that the license itself have a red background to distinguish it from other licenses issued under this section.

(b) An honorably retired law enforcement officer and honorably retired correctional officer shall provide the following information to receive the license described in this section: (i) a letter, with the official letterhead of the agency or department from which such officer is retiring, which explains that such officer is honorably retired, and (ii) a letter with the official letterhead of the agency or department, which explains that such officer has completed a certified law enforcement training academy.

(23) A disabled veteran who seeks to qualify for an exemption under this section shall be required to provide, as proof of service-connected disability, verification from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

(24) A license under this section is not required for a loaded or unloaded pistol or revolver to be carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster or in a purse, handbag, satchel, other similar bag or briefcase or fully enclosed case if the person is not engaged in criminal activity other than a misdemeanor traffic offense, is not otherwise prohibited from possessing a pistol or revolver under state or federal law, and is not in a location prohibited under subsection (13) of this section.

Title 93. Domestic Relations

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Chapter 5. Divorce and Alimony

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

93-5-1. Causes allowed

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Divorces from the bonds of matrimony may be decreed to the injured party for any one or more of the following twelve (12) causes:

First. Natural impotency.

Second. Adultery, unless it should appear that it was committed by collusion of the parties for the purpose of procuring a divorce, or unless the parties cohabited after a knowledge by complainant of the adultery.

Third. Being sentenced to any penitentiary, and not pardoned before being sent there.

Fourth. Willful, continued and obstinate desertion for the space of one (1) year.

Fifth. Habitual drunkenness.

Sixth. Habitual and excessive use of opium, morphine or other like drug.

Seventh. Habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, including spousal domestic abuse.

Spousal domestic abuse may be established through the reliable testimony of a single credible witness, who may be the injured party, and includes, but is not limited to:

That the injured party’s spouse attempted to cause, or purposely, knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to the injured party, or that the injured party’s spouse attempted by physical menace to put the injured party in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; or

That the injured party’s spouse engaged in a pattern of behavior against the injured party of threats or intimidation, emotional or verbal abuse, forced isolation, sexual extortion or sexual abuse, or stalking or aggravated stalking as defined in Section 97-3-107, if the pattern of behavior rises above the level of unkindness or rudeness or incompatibility or want of affection.

Eighth. Having mental illness or an intellectual disability at the time of marriage, if the party complaining did not know of that infirmity.

Ninth. Marriage to some other person at the time of the pretended marriage between the parties.

Tenth. Pregnancy of the wife by another person at the time of the marriage, if the husband did not know of the pregnancy.

Eleventh. Either party may have a divorce if they are related to each other within the degrees of kindred between whom marriage is prohibited by law.

Twelfth. Incurable mental illness. However, no divorce shall be granted upon this ground unless the party with mental illness has been under regular treatment for mental illness and causes thereof, confined in an institution for persons with mental illness for a period of at least three (3) years immediately preceding the commencement of the action. However, transfer of a party with mental illness to his or her home for treatment or a trial visit on prescription or recommendation of a licensed physician, which treatment or trial visit proves unsuccessful after a bona fide effort by the complaining party to effect a cure, upon the reconfinement of the party with mental illness in an institution for persons with mental illness, shall be regular treatment for mental illness and causes thereof, and the period of time so consumed in seeking to effect a cure or while on a trial visit home shall be added to the period of actual confinement in an institution for persons with mental illness in computing the required period of three (3) years confinement immediately preceding the beginning of the action. No divorce shall be granted because of mental illness until after a thorough examination of the person with mental illness by two (2) physicians who are recognized authorities on mental diseases. One (1) of those physicians shall be either the superintendent of a state psychiatric hospital or institution or a veterans hospital for persons with mental illness in which the patient is confined, or a member of the medical staff of that hospital or institution who has had the patient in charge. Before incurable mental illness can be successfully proven as a ground for divorce, it shall be necessary that both of those physicians make affidavit that the patient is a person with mental illness at the time of the examination, and both affidavits shall be made a part of the permanent record of the divorce proceedings and shall create the prima facie presumption of incurable mental illness, such as would justify a divorce based on that ground. Service of process shall be made on the superintendent of the hospital or institution in which the defendant is a patient. If the patient is in a hospital or institution outside the state, process shall be served by publication, as in other cases of service by publication, together with the sending of a copy by registered mail to the superintendent of the hospital or institution. In addition, process shall be served upon the next blood relative and guardian, if any. If there is no legal guardian, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interest of the person with mental illness. The relative or guardian and superintendent of the hospital or institution shall be entitled to appear and be heard upon any and all issues. The status of the parties as to the support and maintenance of the person with mental illness shall not be altered in any way by the granting of the divorce.

However, in the discretion of the chancery court, and in those cases as the court may deem it necessary and proper, before any such decree is granted on the ground of incurable mental illness, the complainant, when ordered by the court, shall enter into bond, to be approved by the court, in such an amount as the court may think just and proper, conditioned for the care and keeping of the person with mental illness during the remainder of his or her natural life, unless the person with mental illness has a sufficient estate in his or her own right for that purpose.

93-5-2. Irreconcilable differences

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) Divorce from the bonds of matrimony may be granted on the ground of irreconcilable differences, but only upon the joint complaint of the husband and wife or a complaint where the defendant has been personally served with process or where the defendant has entered an appearance by written waiver of process.

(2) If the parties provide by written agreement for the custody and maintenance of any children of that marriage and for the settlement of any property rights between the parties and the court finds that such provisions are adequate and sufficient, the agreement may be incorporated in the judgment, and such judgment may be modified as other judgments for divorce.

(3) If the parties are unable to agree upon adequate and sufficient provisions for the custody and maintenance of any children of that marriage or any property rights between them, they may consent to a divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences and permit the court to decide the issues upon which they cannot agree. Such consent must be in writing, signed by both parties personally, must state that the parties voluntarily consent to permit the court to decide such issues, which shall be specifically set forth in such consent, and that the parties understand that the decision of the court shall be a binding and lawful judgment. Such consent may not be withdrawn by a party without leave of the court after the court has commenced any proceeding, including the hearing of any motion or other matter pertaining thereto. The failure or refusal of either party to agree as to adequate and sufficient provisions for the custody and maintenance of any children of that marriage or any property rights between the parties, or any portion of such issues, or the failure or refusal of any party to consent to permit the court to decide such issues, shall not be used as evidence, or in any manner, against such party. No divorce shall be granted pursuant to this subsection until all matters involving custody and maintenance of any child of that marriage and property rights between the parties raised by the pleadings have been either adjudicated by the court or agreed upon by the parties and found to be adequate and sufficient by the court and included in the judgment of divorce. Appeals from any orders and judgments rendered pursuant to this subsection may be had as in other cases in chancery court only insofar as such orders and judgments relate to issues that the parties consented to have decided by the court.

(4) Complaints for divorce on the ground of irreconcilable differences must have been on file for sixty (60) days before being heard. Except as otherwise provided in subsection (3) of this section, a joint complaint of husband and wife or a complaint where the defendant has been personally served with process or where the defendant has entered an appearance by written waiver of process, for divorce solely on the ground of irreconcilable differences, shall be taken as proved and a final judgment entered thereon, as in other cases and without proof or testimony in termtime or vacation, the provisions of Section 93-5-17 to the contrary notwithstanding.

(5) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (3) of this section, no divorce shall be granted on the ground of irreconcilable differences where there has been a contest or denial; provided, however, that a divorce may be granted on the ground of irreconcilable differences where there has been a contest or denial, if the contest or denial has been withdrawn or cancelled by the party filing same by leave and order of the court.

(6) Irreconcilable differences may be asserted as a sole ground for divorce or as an alternate ground for divorce with any other cause for divorce set out in Section 93-5-1.

(7) For the purposes of orders touching the maintenance and alimony of the wife or husband, “property” and “an asset of a spouse” shall not include any interest a party may have as an heir at law of a living person or any interest under a third-party will, nor shall any such interest be considered as an economic circumstance or other factor.

93-5-5. Residence requirements

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

The jurisdiction of the chancery court in suits for divorce shall be confined to the following cases:

(a) Where one (1) of the parties has been an actual bona fide resident within this state for six (6) months next preceding the commencement of the suit. If a member of the armed services of the United States is stationed in the state and residing within the state with his spouse, such person and his spouse shall be considered actual bona fide residents of the state for the purposes of this section, provided they were residing within the state at the time of the separation of the parties.

(b) In any case where the proof shows that a residence was acquired in this state with a purpose of securing a divorce, the court shall not take jurisdiction thereof, but dismiss the bill at the cost of complainant.

93-5-23. Children; spousal maintenance or alimony; referrals for failure to pay child support

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

When a divorce shall be decreed from the bonds of matrimony, the court may, in its discretion, having regard to the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case, as may seem equitable and just, make all orders touching the care, custody and maintenance of the children of the marriage, and also touching the maintenance and alimony of the wife or the husband, or any allowance to be made to her or him, and shall, if need be, require bond, sureties or other guarantee for the payment of the sum so allowed. Orders touching on the custody of the children of the marriage shall be made in accordance with the provisions of Section 93-5-24. For the purposes of orders touching the maintenance and alimony of the wife or husband, “property” and “an asset of a spouse” shall not include any interest a party may have as an heir at law of a living person or any interest under a third-party will, nor shall any such interest be considered as an economic circumstance or other factor. The court may afterwards, on petition, change the decree, and make from time to time such new decrees as the case may require. However, where proof shows that both parents have separate incomes or estates, the court may require that each parent contribute to the support and maintenance of the children of the marriage in proportion to the relative financial ability of each. In the event a legally responsible parent has health insurance available to him or her through an employer or organization that may extend benefits to the dependents of such parent, any order of support issued against such parent may require him or her to exercise the option of additional coverage in favor of such children as he or she is legally responsible to support.

Whenever the court has ordered a party to make periodic payments for the maintenance or support of a child, but no bond, sureties or other guarantee has been required to secure such payments, and whenever such payments as have become due remain unpaid for a period of at least thirty (30) days, the court may, upon petition of the person to whom such payments are owing, or such person’s legal representative, enter an order requiring that bond, sureties or other security be given by the person obligated to make such payments, the amount and sufficiency of which shall be approved by the court. The obligor shall, as in other civil actions, be served with process and shall be entitled to a hearing in such case.

At the discretion of the court, any person found in contempt for failure to pay child support and imprisoned therefor may be referred for placement in a state, county or municipal restitution, house arrest or restorative justice center or program, provided such person meets the qualifications prescribed in Section 99-37-19.

Whenever in any proceeding in the chancery court concerning the custody of a child a party alleges that the child whose custody is at issue has been the victim of sexual or physical abuse by the other party, the court may, on its own motion, grant a continuance in the custody proceeding only until such allegation has been investigated by the Department of Human Services. At the time of ordering such continuance, the court may direct the party and his attorney making such allegation of child abuse to report in writing and provide all evidence touching on the allegation of abuse to the Department of Human Services. The Department of Human Services shall investigate such allegation and take such action as it deems appropriate and as provided in such cases under the Youth Court Law (being Chapter 21 of Title 43, Mississippi Code of 1972) or under the laws establishing family courts (being Chapter 23 of Title 43, Mississippi Code of 1972).

If after investigation by the Department of Human Services or final disposition by the youth court or family court allegations of child abuse are found to be without foundation, the chancery court shall order the alleging party to pay all court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the defending party in responding to such allegation.

The court may investigate, hear and make a determination in a custody action when a charge of abuse and/or neglect arises in the course of a custody action as provided in Section 43-21-151, and in such cases the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the child as provided under Section 43-21-121, who shall be an attorney. Unless the chancery court’s jurisdiction has been terminated, all disposition orders in such cases for placement with the Department of Human Services shall be reviewed by the court or designated authority at least annually to determine if continued placement with the department is in the best interest of the child or public.

The duty of support of a child terminates upon the emancipation of the child. The court may determine that emancipation has occurred pursuant to Section 93-11-65.

Custody and visitation upon military temporary duty, deployment or mobilization shall be governed by Section 93-5-34.

93-5-24. Custody order; access to information; custody by parent with history of perpetrating family violence

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) Custody shall be awarded as follows according to the best interests of the child:

(a) Physical and legal custody to both parents jointly pursuant to subsections (2) through (7).

(b) Physical custody to both parents jointly pursuant to subsections (2) through (7) and legal custody to either parent.

(c) Legal custody to both parents jointly pursuant to subsections (2) through (7) and physical custody to either parent.

(d) Physical and legal custody to either parent.

(e) Upon a finding by the court that both of the parents of the child have abandoned or deserted such child or that both such parents are mentally, morally or otherwise unfit to rear and train the child the court may award physical and legal custody to:

(i) The person in whose home the child has been living in a wholesome and stable environment; or

(ii) Physical and legal custody to any other person deemed by the court to be suitable and able to provide adequate and proper care and guidance for the child.

In making an order for custody to either parent or to both parents jointly, the court, in its discretion, may require the parents to submit to the court a plan for the implementation of the custody order.

(2) Joint custody may be awarded where irreconcilable differences is the ground for divorce, in the discretion of the court, upon application of both parents.

(3) In other cases, joint custody may be awarded, in the discretion of the court, upon application of one or both parents.

(4) There shall be a presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of a minor child where both parents have agreed to an award of joint custody.

(5)(a) For the purposes of this section, “joint custody” means joint physical and legal custody.

(b) For the purposes of this section, “physical custody” means those periods of time in which a child resides with or is under the care and supervision of one (1) of the parents.

(c) For the purposes of this section, “joint physical custody” means that each of the parents shall have significant periods of physical custody. Joint physical custody shall be shared by the parents in such a way so as to assure a child of frequent and continuing contact with both parents.

(d) For the purposes of this section, “legal custody” means the decision-making rights, the responsibilities and the authority relating to the health, education and welfare of a child.

(e) For the purposes of this section, “joint legal custody” means that the parents or parties share the decision-making rights, the responsibilities and the authority relating to the health, education and welfare of a child. An award of joint legal custody obligates the parties to exchange information concerning the health, education and welfare of the minor child, and to confer with one another in the exercise of decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority.

An award of joint physical and legal custody obligates the parties to exchange information concerning the health, education and welfare of the minor child, and unless allocated, apportioned or decreed, the parents or parties shall confer with one another in the exercise of decision-making rights, responsibilities and authority.

(6) Any order for joint custody may be modified or terminated upon the petition of both parents or upon the petition of one (1) parent showing that a material change in circumstances has occurred.

(7) There shall be no presumption that it is in the best interest of a child that a mother be awarded either legal or physical custody.

(8) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, access to records and information pertaining to a minor child, including, but not limited to, medical, dental and school records, shall not be denied to a parent because the parent is not the child’s custodial parent.

(9)(a)(i) In every proceeding where the custody of a child is in dispute, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is detrimental to the child and not in the best interest of the child to be placed in sole custody, joint legal custody or joint physical custody of a parent who has a history of perpetrating family violence. The court may find a history of perpetrating family violence if the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, one (1) incident of family violence that has resulted in serious bodily injury to, or a pattern of family violence against, the party making the allegation or a family household member of either party. The court shall make written findings to document how and why the presumption was or was not triggered.

(ii) This presumption may only be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.

(iii) In determining whether the presumption set forth in subsection (9) has been overcome, the court shall consider all of the following factors:

1. Whether the perpetrator of family violence has demonstrated that giving sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child to the perpetrator is in the best interest of the child because of the other parent’s absence, mental illness, substance abuse or such other circumstances which affect the best interest of the child or children;

2. Whether the perpetrator has successfully completed a batterer’s treatment program;

3. Whether the perpetrator has successfully completed a program of alcohol or drug abuse counseling if the court determines that counseling is appropriate;

4. Whether the perpetrator has successfully completed a parenting class if the court determines the class to be appropriate;

5. If the perpetrator is on probation or parole, whether he or she is restrained by a protective order granted after a hearing, and whether he or she has complied with its terms and conditions; and

6. Whether the perpetrator of domestic violence has committed any further acts of domestic violence.

(iv) The court shall make written findings to document how and why the presumption was or was not rebutted.

(b)(i) If custody is awarded to a suitable third person, it shall not be until the natural grandparents of the child have been excluded and such person shall not allow access to a violent parent except as ordered by the court.

(ii) If the court finds that both parents have a history of perpetrating family violence, but the court finds that parental custody would be in the best interest of the child, custody may be awarded solely to the parent less likely to continue to perpetrate family violence. In such a case, the court may mandate completion of a treatment program by the custodial parent.

(c) If the court finds that the allegations of domestic violence are completely unfounded, the chancery court shall order the alleging party to pay all court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred by the defending party in responding to such allegations.

(d)(i) A court may award visitation by a parent who committed domestic or family violence only if the court finds that adequate provision for the safety of the child and the parent who is a victim of domestic or family violence can be made.

(ii) In a visitation order, a court may take any of the following actions:

1. Order an exchange of the child to occur in a protected setting;

2. Order visitation supervised in a manner to be determined by the court;

3. Order the perpetrator of domestic or family violence to attend and complete to the satisfaction of the court a program of intervention for perpetrators or other designated counseling as a condition of visitation;

4. Order the perpetrator of domestic or family violence to abstain from possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances during the visitation and for twenty-four (24) hours preceding the visitation;

5. Order the perpetrator of domestic or family violence to pay a fee to defray the cost of supervised visitation;

6. Prohibit overnight visitation;

7. Require a bond from the perpetrator of domestic or family violence for the return and safety of the child; or

8. Impose any other condition that is deemed necessary to provide for the safety of the child, the victim of family or domestic violence, or other family or household member.

(iii) Whether or not visitation is allowed, the court may order the address of the child or the victim of family or domestic violence to be kept confidential.

(e) The court may refer but shall not order an adult who is a victim of family or domestic violence to attend counseling relating to the victim’s status or behavior as a victim, individually or with the perpetrator of domestic or family violence, as a condition of receiving custody of a child or as a condition of visitation.

(f) If a court allows a family or household member to supervise visitation, the court shall establish conditions to be followed during visitation.

Chapter 21. Protection From Domestic Abuse

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Article 1. Protection from Domestic Abuse Law

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

93-21-1. Short title

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the “Protection from Domestic Abuse Law.”

93-21-3. Definitions

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Abuse” means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between spouses, former spouses, persons living as spouses or who formerly lived as spouses, persons having a child or children in common, other individuals related by consanguinity or affinity who reside together or who formerly resided together or between individuals who have a current or former dating relationship:

(i) Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury or serious bodily injury with or without a deadly weapon;

(ii) Placing, by physical menace or threat, another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;

(iii) Criminal sexual conduct committed against a minor within the meaning of Section 97-5-23;

(iv) Stalking within the meaning of Section 97-3-107;

(v) Cyberstalking within the meaning of Section 97-45-15; or

(vi) Sexual offenses within the meaning of Section 97-3-65 or 97-3-95.

“Abuse” does not include any act of self-defense.

(b) “Adult” means any person eighteen (18) years of age or older, or any person under eighteen (18) years of age who has been emancipated by marriage.

(c) “Court” means the chancery court, justice court, municipal court or county court.

(d) “Dating relationship” means a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature between two (2) individuals; it does not include a casual relationship or ordinary fraternization between two (2) individuals in a business or social context. Whether a relationship is a “dating relationship” shall be determined by examining the following factors:

(i) The length of the relationship;

(ii) The type of relationship; and

(iii) The frequency of interaction between the two (2) individuals involved in the relationship.

(e) “Mutual protection order” means a protection order that includes provisions in favor of both the individual seeking relief and the respondent.

93-21-5. Jurisdiction

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) The municipal justice, county or chancery court shall have jurisdiction over proceedings under this chapter as provided in this chapter. The petitioner’s right to relief under this chapter shall not be affected by his leaving the residence or household to avoid further abuse.

(2) Venue shall be proper in any county or municipality where the respondent resides or in any county or municipality where the alleged abusive act or acts occurred.

(3) If a petition for an order for protection from domestic abuse is filed in a court lacking proper venue, the court, upon objection of the respondent, shall transfer the action to the appropriate venue pursuant to other applicable law.

(4) A record shall be made of any proceeding in justice or municipal court that involves domestic abuse.

93-21-7. Petitions alleging abuse; expedited proceedings; filing; costs; emergency relief

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) Any person may seek a domestic abuse protection order for himself by filing a petition alleging abuse by the respondent. Any parent, adult household member, or next friend of the abused person may seek a domestic abuse protection order on behalf of any minor children or any person alleged to be incompetent by filing a petition with the court alleging abuse by the respondent. Cases seeking relief under this chapter shall be priority cases on the court’s docket and the judge shall be immediately notified when a case is filed in order to provide for expedited proceedings.

(2) A petition seeking a domestic abuse protection order may be filed in any of the following courts: municipal, justice, county or chancery. A chancery court shall not prohibit the filing of a petition which does not seek emergency relief on the basis that the petitioner did not first seek or obtain temporary relief in another court. A petition requesting emergency relief pending a hearing shall not be filed in chancery court unless specifically permitted by the chancellor under the circumstances or as a separate pleading in an ongoing chancery action between the parties. Nothing in this section shall:

(a) Be construed to require consideration of emergency relief by a chancery court; or

(b) Preclude a chancery court from entering an order of emergency relief.

(3) The petitioner in any action brought pursuant to this chapter shall not bear the costs associated with its filing or the costs associated with the issuance or service of any notice of a hearing to the respondent, issuance or service of an order of protection on the respondent, or issuance or service of a warrant or witness subpoena. If the court finds that the petitioner is entitled to an order protecting the petitioner from abuse, the court shall be authorized to assess all costs including attorney’s fees of the proceedings to the respondent. The court may assess costs including attorney’s fees to the petitioner only if the allegations of abuse are determined to be without merit and the court finds that the petitioner is not a victim of abuse as defined by Section 93-21-3.

93-21-9. Petition contents

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) A petition filed under the provisions of this chapter shall state:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, the name, address and county of residence of each petitioner and of each individual alleged to have committed abuse;

(b) The facts and circumstances concerning the alleged abuse;

(c) The relationships between the petitioners and the individuals alleged to have committed abuse; and

(d) A request for one or more domestic abuse protection orders.

(2) If a petition requests a domestic abuse protection order for a spouse and alleges that the other spouse has committed abuse, the petition shall state whether or not a suit for divorce of the spouses is pending and, if so, in what jurisdiction.

(3) Any temporary or permanent decree issued in a divorce proceeding subsequent to an order issued pursuant to this chapter may, in the discretion of the chancellor hearing the divorce proceeding, supersede in whole or in part the order issued pursuant to this chapter.

(4) If a petitioner is a former spouse of an individual alleged to have committed abuse:

(a) A copy of the decree of divorce shall be attached to the petition; or

(b) The petition shall state the decree is currently unavailable to the petitioner and that a copy of the decree will be filed with the court before the time for the hearing on the petition.

(5) If a petition requests a domestic abuse protection order for a child who is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of a youth court, family court or a chancery court, or alleges that a child who is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of a youth court, family court or chancery court has committed abuse:

(a) A copy of the court orders affecting the custody or guardianship, possession and support of or access to the child shall be filed with the petition; or

(b) The petition shall state that the orders affecting the child are currently unavailable to the petitioner and that a copy of the orders will be filed with the court before the hearing on the petition.

(6) If the petition includes a request for emergency relief pending a hearing, the petition shall contain a general description of the facts and circumstances concerning the abuse and the need for immediate protection.

(7) If the petition states that the disclosure of the petitioner’s address would risk abuse of the petitioner or any member of the petitioner’s family or household, or would reveal the confidential address of a shelter for domestic violence victims, the petitioner’s address may be omitted from the petition. If a petitioner’s address has been omitted from the petition pursuant to this subsection and the address of the petitioner is necessary to determine jurisdiction or venue, the disclosure of such address shall be made orally and in camera. A nonpublic record containing the address and contact information of a petitioner shall be maintained by the court to be utilized for court purposes only.

(8) Every petition shall be signed by the petitioner under oath that the facts and circumstances contained in the petition are true to the best knowledge and belief of the petitioner.

(9) The Attorney General, in cooperation with the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Mississippi Judicial College, shall develop a standardized form petition to be used when requesting a domestic abuse protection order.

93-21-11. Hearing; notice; hearing in absentia

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) Within ten (10) days of the filing of a petition under the provisions of this chapter, the court shall hold a hearing, at which time the petitioner must prove the allegation of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence.

(2) The respondent shall be given notice of the filing of any petition and of the date, time and place set for the hearing by personal service of process. A court may conduct a hearing in the absence of the respondent after first ascertaining that the respondent was properly noticed of the hearing date, time and place.

93-21-13. Emergency domestic abuse protection orders

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1)(a) The court in which a petition seeking emergency relief pending a hearing is filed must consider all such requests in an expedited manner and shall not refer or direct the matter to be sent to another court. The court may issue an emergency domestic abuse protection order without prior notice to the respondent upon good cause shown by the petitioner. Immediate and present danger of abuse to the petitioner, any minor children or any person alleged to be incompetent shall constitute good cause for issuance of an emergency domestic abuse protection order. The respondent shall be provided with notice of the entry of any emergency domestic abuse protection order issued by the court by personal service of process.

(b) A court granting an emergency domestic abuse protection order may grant relief as provided in Section 93-21-15(1)(a).

(c) An emergency domestic abuse protection order shall be effective for ten (10) days, or until a hearing may be held, whichever occurs first. If a hearing under this subsection (1) is continued, the court may grant or extend the emergency order as it deems necessary for the protection of the abused person. A continuance under this subsection (1)(c) shall be valid for no longer than twenty (20) days.

(2) The Attorney General, in cooperation with the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Mississippi Judicial College, shall develop standardized forms for emergency domestic abuse protection orders. Use of the standardized forms in protection order proceedings pursuant to this chapter shall be fully implemented by all courts no later than July 1, 2015. However, in any criminal prosecution or contempt proceeding for a violation of a domestic abuse protection order, it shall not be a defense that the order was not issued on the standardized form.

(3) Upon issuance of any protection order by the court, the order shall be entered into the Mississippi Protection Order Registry by the clerk of the court pursuant to Section 93-21-25, and a copy provided to the sheriff’s department in the county of the court of issuance.(4) An emergency domestic abuse protection order issued under this section is effective in this state, in all other states, and in United States territories and tribal lands. A court shall not limit the scope of a protection order to the boundaries of the State of Mississippi or to the boundaries of a municipality or county within the State of Mississippi.

93-21-15. Domestic abuse protection temporary and final orders

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1)(a) After a hearing is held as provided in Section 93-21-11 for which notice and opportunity to be heard has been granted to the respondent, and upon a finding that the petitioner has proved the existence of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence, the municipal and justice courts shall be empowered to grant a temporary domestic abuse protection order to bring about a cessation of abuse of the petitioner, any minor children, or any person alleged to be incompetent. The relief the court may provide includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(i) Directing the respondent to refrain from abusing the petitioner, any minor children, or any person alleged to be incompetent;

(ii) Prohibiting or limiting respondent’s physical proximity to the abused or other household members as designated by the court, including residence and place of work;

(iii) Prohibiting or limiting contact by the respondent with the abused or other household members designated by the court, whether in person, by telephone or by other electronic communication;

(iv) Granting possession to the petitioner of the residence or household to the exclusion of the respondent by evicting the respondent or restoring possession to the petitioner, or both; or

(v) Prohibiting the transferring, encumbering or otherwise disposing of property mutually owned or leased by the parties, except when in the ordinary course of business.

(b) The duration of any temporary domestic abuse protection order issued by a municipal or justice court shall not exceed thirty (30) days. However, if the party to be protected and the respondent do not have minor children in common, the duration of the temporary domestic abuse protection order may exceed thirty (30) days but shall not exceed one (1) year.

(c) Procedures for an appeal of the issuance of a temporary domestic abuse protection order are set forth in Section 93-21-15.1.

(2)(a) After a hearing is held as provided in Section 93-21-11 for which notice and opportunity to be heard has been granted to the respondent, and upon a finding that the petitioner has proved the existence of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence, the chancery or county court shall be empowered to grant a final domestic abuse protection order or approve any consent agreement to bring about a cessation of abuse of the petitioner, any minor children, or any person alleged to be incompetent. In granting a final domestic abuse protection order, the chancery or county court may provide for relief that includes, but is not limited to, the following:

(i) Directing the respondent to refrain from abusing the petitioner, any minor children, or any person alleged to be incompetent;

(ii) Granting possession to the petitioner of the residence or household to the exclusion of the respondent by evicting the respondent or restoring possession to the petitioner, or both;

(iii) When the respondent has a duty to support the petitioner, any minor children, or any person alleged to be incompetent living in the residence or household and the respondent is the sole owner or lessee, granting possession to the petitioner of the residence or household to the exclusion of the respondent by evicting the respondent or restoring possession to the petitioner, or both, or by consent agreement allowing the respondent to provide suitable, alternate housing;

(iv) Awarding temporary custody of or establishing temporary visitation rights with regard to any minor children or any person alleged to be incompetent, or both;

(v) If the respondent is legally obligated to support the petitioner, any minor children, or any person alleged to be incompetent, ordering the respondent to pay temporary support for the petitioner, any minor children, or any person alleged to be incompetent;

(vi) Ordering the respondent to pay to the abused person monetary compensation for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse, including, but not limited to, medical expenses resulting from such abuse, loss of earnings or support, out-of-pocket losses for injuries sustained, moving expenses, a reasonable attorney’s fee, or any combination of the above;

(vii) Prohibiting the transferring, encumbering, or otherwise disposing of property mutually owned or leased by the parties, except when in the ordinary course of business;

(viii) Prohibiting or limiting respondent’s physical proximity to the abused or other household members designated by the court, including residence, school and place of work;

(ix) Prohibiting or limiting contact by the respondent with the abused or other household members designated by the court whether in person, by telephone or by electronic communication; and

(x) Ordering counseling or professional medical treatment for the respondent, including counseling or treatment designed to bring about the cessation of domestic abuse.

(b) Except as provided below, a final domestic abuse protection order issued by a chancery or county court under the provisions of this chapter shall be effective for such time period as the court deems appropriate. The expiration date of the order shall be clearly stated in the order.

(c) Temporary provisions addressing temporary custody, visitation or support of minor children contained in a final domestic abuse protection order issued by a chancery or county court shall be effective for one hundred eighty (180) days. A party seeking relief beyond that period must initiate appropriate proceedings in the chancery court of appropriate jurisdiction. If at the end of the one-hundred-eighty-day period, neither party has initiated such proceedings, the custody, visitation or support of minor children will revert to the chancery court order addressing such terms that was in effect at the time the domestic abuse protection order was granted. The chancery court in which custody, visitation or support proceedings have been initiated may provide for any temporary provisions addressing custody, visitation or support as the court deems appropriate.

(3) Every domestic abuse protection order issued pursuant to this section shall set forth the reasons for its issuance, shall contain specific findings of fact regarding the existence of abuse, shall be specific in its terms and shall describe in reasonable detail the act or acts to be prohibited. No mutual protection order shall be issued unless that order is supported by an independent petition by each party requesting relief pursuant to this chapter, and the order contains specific findings of fact regarding the existence of abuse by each party as principal aggressor, and a finding that neither party acted in self-defense.

(4) The Attorney General, in cooperation with the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Mississippi Judicial College, shall develop standardized forms for temporary and final domestic abuse protection orders. The use of standardized forms in protection order proceedings pursuant to this chapter shall be fully implemented by all courts no later than July 1, 2015. However, in any criminal prosecution or contempt proceeding for a violation of a domestic abuse protection order, it shall not be a defense that the order was not issued on the standardized form.

(5) Upon issuance of any protection order by the court, the order shall be entered in the Mississippi Protection Order Registry by the clerk of the court pursuant to Section 93-21-25, and a copy shall be provided to the sheriff’s department in the county of the court of issuance.

(6) Upon subsequent petition by either party and following a hearing of which both parties have received notice and an opportunity to be heard, the court may modify, amend, or dissolve a domestic abuse protection order previously issued by that court.

(7) A domestic abuse protection order issued under this section is effective in this state, in all other states, and in United States territories and tribal lands. A court shall not limit the scope of a protection order to the boundaries of the State of Mississippi or to the boundaries of a municipality or county within the State of Mississippi.(8) Procedures for an appeal of the issuance or denial of a final domestic abuse protection order are set forth in Section 93-21-15.1.

93-21-15.1. Appeals

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1)(a) De novo appeal. Any party aggrieved by the decision of a municipal or justice court judge to issue a temporary domestic abuse protection order has the right of a trial de novo on appeal in the chancery court having jurisdiction. The trial de novo shall be held within ten (10) days of the filing of a notice of appeal. All such appeals shall be priority cases and the judge must be immediately notified when an appeal is filed in order to provide for expedited proceedings. The appeal will proceed as if a petition for an order of protection from domestic abuse had been filed in the chancery court. Following the trial de novo, if the petitioner has proved the existence of abuse by a preponderance of the evidence, the chancery court may grant a final domestic abuse protection order. In granting a final domestic abuse protection order, the chancery court may provide for relief that includes, but is not limited to, the relief set out in Section 93-21-15(2).

(b) Notice of appeal. The party desiring to appeal a decision from municipal or justice court must file a written notice of appeal with the chancery court clerk within ten (10) days of the issuance of a domestic abuse protection order. In all de novo appeals, the notice of appeal and payment of costs must be simultaneously filed and paid with the chancery clerk. Costs for an appeal by trial de novo shall be calculated as specified in subsection (4) of this section. The written notice of appeal must specify the party or parties taking the appeal and must designate the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken. A copy of the notice of appeal must be provided to all parties or their attorneys of record and to the clerk of the court from which the appeal is taken. A certificate of service must accompany the written notice of appeal. Upon receipt by the municipal or justice court of the notice of appeal, the clerk of the lower court shall immediately provide the entire court file to the chancery clerk.

(2)(a) Appeals on the record. Any party aggrieved by the decision of a county court to issue a final domestic abuse protection order or to deny such an order shall be entitled to an appeal on the record in the chancery court having jurisdiction. If the county court has issued a domestic abuse protection order as a temporary order instead of a final order as contemplated by Section 93-21-15(2), the chancery court shall permit the appeal on the record and shall treat the temporary order issued by the county court as a final order on the matter. The chancery court shall treat the appeal as a priority matter and render a decision as expeditiously as possible.

(b) Notice of appeal and filing the record. The party desiring to appeal a decision from county court must file a written notice of appeal with the chancery court clerk within ten (10) days of the issuance of a domestic abuse protection order. In all appeals, the notice of appeal and payment of costs, where costs are applicable, shall be simultaneously filed and paid with the chancery clerk. Costs shall be calculated as specified in subsection (4) of this section. The written notice of appeal must specify the party or parties taking the appeal and must designate the judgment or order from which the appeal is taken. A copy of the notice of appeal must be provided to all parties or their attorneys of record and to the clerk of the court from which the appeal is taken. A certificate of service must accompany the written notice of appeal. In all appeals in which the appeal is solely on the record, the record from the county court must be filed with the chancery clerk within thirty (30) days of filing of the notice of appeal. However, in cases involving a transcript, the court reporter or county court may request an extension of time. The court, on its own motion or on application of any party, may compel the compilation and transmission of the record of proceedings. Failure to file the record with the court clerk or to request the assistance of the court in compelling the same within thirty (30) days of the filing of the written notice of appeal may be deemed an abandonment of the appeal and the court may dismiss the same with costs to the appealing party or parties, unless a party or parties is exempt from costs as specified in subsection (4) of this section.

(c) Briefs on appeal on the record. Briefs, if any, filed in an appeal on the record must conform to the practice in the Supreme Court as to form and time of filing and service, except that the parties should file only an original and one (1) copy of each brief. The consequences of failure to timely file a brief will be the same as in the Supreme Court.

(3) Supersedeas. The perfecting of an appeal, whether on the record or by trial de novo, does not act as a supersedeas. Any domestic abuse protection order issued by a municipal, justice or county court shall remain in full force and effect for the duration of the appeal, unless the domestic abuse protection order otherwise expires due to the passage of time.

(4) Cost bond. In all appeals under this section, unless the court allows an appeal in forma pauperis or the appellant otherwise qualifies for exemption as specified in this subsection (4), the appellant shall pay all court costs incurred below and likely to be incurred on appeal as estimated by the chancery clerk. In all cases where the appellant is appealing the denial of an order of protection from domestic abuse by a county court, the appellant shall not be required to pay any costs associated with the appeal, including service of process fees, nor shall the appellant be required to appeal in forma pauperis. In such circumstances, the court may assess costs of the appeal to the appellant if the court finds that the allegations of abuse are without merit and the appellant is not a victim of abuse. Where the issuance of a mutual protection order is the basis of the appeal, the appellant may be entitled to reimbursement of appellate costs paid to the court as a matter of equity if the chancery court finds that the mutual order was issued by the lower court without regard to the requirements of Section 93-21-15(3).

(5) The appellate procedures set forth in this section for appeals from justice, municipal and county courts shall control if there is a conflict with another statute or rule.

(6) Any party aggrieved by the issuance or denial of a final order of protection by a chancery court shall be entitled to appeal the decision. The appeal shall be governed by the Mississippi Rules of Appellate Procedure and any other applicable rules or statutes.

93-21-16. Protective orders from other jurisdictions; validity and enforcement

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) A protective order from another jurisdiction issued to protect the applicant from abuse as defined in Section 93-21-3, or a protection order as defined in Section 93-22-3, issued by a tribunal of another state shall be accorded full faith and credit by the courts of this state and enforced in this state as provided for in the Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders Act.

(2) For purposes of enforcement by Mississippi law enforcement officers, a protective order from another jurisdiction, or a protection order as defined in Section 93-22-3 and issued by a tribunal of another state, is presumed to be valid if it meets the requirements of Section 93-22-7.

(3) For purposes of judicial enforcement of a protective order issued in another jurisdiction, or a protection order as defined in Section 93-22-3 and issued by a tribunal of another state, an order is presumed valid if it meets the requirements of Section 93-22-5(4). It is an affirmative defense in any action seeking enforcement of a protective order issued in another jurisdiction, or a protection order as defined in Section 93-22-3 and issued by a tribunal of another state, that any criteria for the validity of the order is absent.

93-21-17. Other relief; duration; amendment; title

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) The granting of any relief authorized under this chapter shall not preclude any other relief provided by law.

(2) The court may amend its order or agreement at any time upon subsequent petition filed by either party. Protective orders issued under the provisions of this chapter may only be amended by approval of the court.

(3) No order or agreement under this chapter shall in any manner affect title to any real property.

93-21-19. No spousal disqualification

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

There shall be no restrictions concerning a spouse testifying against his spouse in any hearing under the provisions of this chapter.

93-21-21. Violation of order or agreement

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) Upon a knowing violation of (a) a protection order or court-approved consent agreement issued pursuant to this chapter, (b) a similar order issued by a foreign court of competent jurisdiction for the purpose of protecting a person from domestic abuse, or (c) a bond condition imposed pursuant to Section 99-5-37, the person violating the order or condition commits a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months or a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), or both.

(2) Alternatively, upon a knowing violation of a protection order or court-approved consent agreement issued pursuant to this chapter or a bond condition issued pursuant to Section 99-5-37, the issuing court may hold the person violating the order or bond condition in contempt, the contempt to be punishable as otherwise provided by applicable law. A person shall not be both convicted of a misdemeanor and held in contempt for the same violation of an order or bond condition.

(3) When investigating allegations of a violation under subsection (1) of this section, law enforcement officers shall utilize the uniform offense report prescribed for this purpose by the Office of the Attorney General in consultation with the sheriff’s and police chief’s associations. However, failure of law enforcement to utilize the uniform offense report shall not be a defense to a crime charged under subsection (1) of this section.

(4) In any conviction for a violation of a domestic abuse protection order as described in subsection (1) of this section, the court shall enter the disposition of the matter into the corresponding uniform offense report.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed to interfere with the court’s authority, if any, to address bond condition violations in a more restrictive manner.

93-21-23. Civil and criminal immunity

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Any licensed doctor of medicine, licensed doctor of dentistry, intern, resident or registered nurse, psychologist, social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist, preacher, teacher, attorney, law enforcement officer, or any other person or institution participating in the making of a report pursuant to this chapter or participating in judicial proceedings resulting therefrom shall be presumed to be acting in good faith, and if found to have acted in good faith shall be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed. The reporting of an abused person shall not constitute a breach of confidentiality.

93-21-25. Mississippi Protective Order Registry

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) In order to provide a statewide registry for protection orders and to aid law enforcement, prosecutors and courts in handling such matters, the Attorney General is authorized to create and administer a Mississippi Protection Order Registry. The Attorney General’s office shall implement policies and procedures governing access to the registry by authorized users, which shall include provisions addressing the confidentiality of any information which may tend to reveal the location or identity of a victim of domestic abuse.

(2) All orders issued pursuant to Sections 93-21-1 through 93-21-29, 97-3-7(11), 97-3-65(6) or 97-3-101(5) will be maintained in the Mississippi Protection Order Registry. It shall be the duty of the clerk of the issuing court to enter all civil and criminal domestic abuse protection orders and all criminal sexual assault protection orders, including any modifications, amendments or dismissals of such orders, into the Mississippi Protection Order Registry within twenty-four (24) hours of issuance with no exceptions for weekends or holidays. A separate copy of any order shall be provided to the sheriff’s department TAC officers of the county of the issuing court. The copy may be provided in electronic format. Each qualifying protection order submitted to the Mississippi Protection Order Registry shall be automatically transmitted to the National Criminal Information Center Protection Order File. Failure of the clerk to enter the order into the registry or to provide a copy of the order to law enforcement shall have no effect on the validity or enforcement of an otherwise valid protection order.

Any information regarding the registration or issuance of a civil or criminal domestic abuse protection order or a criminal sexual assault protection order, or the filing of a petition for a civil domestic abuse protection order which is maintained in the Mississippi Protection Order Registry and would tend to reveal the identity or location of the protected person(s) shall not constitute a public record and shall be exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Mississippi Public Records Act of 1983. This information may be disclosed to appropriate law enforcement, prosecutors or courts for protection order enforcement purposes.

93-21-27. Law enforcement officer immunity

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

A law enforcement officer shall not be held liable in any civil action for an arrest based on probable cause, enforcement in good faith of a court order, or any other action or omission in good faith under this chapter arising from an alleged domestic violence incident brought by any authorized party, or an arrest made in good faith pursuant to Section 99-3-7(3), or failure, in good faith, to make an arrest pursuant to Section 99-3-7(3).

93-21-28. Request for local law enforcement assistance

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) A person who alleges that he or she or a minor child has been the victim of domestic violence may request the assistance of a local law enforcement agency. The local law enforcement agency shall respond to the request for assistance. The local law enforcement officer responding to the request for assistance shall take whatever steps are reasonably necessary to protect the complainant from harm and shall advise the complainant of sources of shelter, medical care, counseling and other services. Upon request by the complainant and where feasible, the law enforcement officer shall transport the complainant to appropriate facilities such as hospitals or public or private facilities for shelter and accompany the complainant to his or her residence, within the jurisdiction in which the request for assistance was made, so that the complainant may remove food, clothing, medication and such other personal property as is reasonably necessary to enable the complainant and any minor children who are presently in the care of the complainant to remain elsewhere pending further proceedings.

(2) In providing the assistance authorized by subsection (1), no officer may be held criminally or civilly liable on account of reasonable measures taken under authority of subsection (1).

93-21-29. Remedy supplemental

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Any proceeding under this chapter shall be in addition to other available civil or criminal remedies.

Chapter 22. Uniform Interstate Enforcement of Domestic Violence Protection Orders

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

93-22-7. Nonjudicial enforcement of order

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) A law enforcement officer of this state, upon determining that there is probable cause to believe that a valid foreign protection order exists and that the order has been violated, shall enforce the order as if it were the order of a tribunal of this state. Presentation of a protection order that identifies both the protected individual and the respondent, and on its face is in effect at the time enforcement is being sought, constitutes probable cause to believe that a valid foreign protection order exists. For the purposes of this section, the protection order may be inscribed on a tangible medium or may have been stored in an electronic or other medium if it is retrievable in perceivable form. Presentation of a certified copy of a protection order is not required for enforcement.

(2) If the protection order is not presented, the officer may consider other information in determining whether there is probable cause to believe that a valid foreign protection order exists.

(3) If a law enforcement officer of this state determines that an otherwise valid foreign protection order cannot be enforced because the respondent has not been notified or served with the order, the officer shall inform the respondent of the order and make a reasonable effort to serve the order upon the respondent. After informing the respondent and serving the order, the officer shall allow the respondent a reasonable opportunity to comply with the order before enforcing the order.

(4) Registration or filing of an order in this state is not required for the enforcement of a valid foreign protection order under the provisions of this chapter.

93-22-9. Registration of order

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) It is not required that any foreign protection order be registered in Mississippi; however, any individual may register a foreign protection order in this state on behalf of the individual or any protected person. To register a foreign protection order, an individual shall present a certified copy of the order to the chancery clerk’s office of any county in this state.

(2) Upon presentation of a protection order, the chancery clerk shall enter the order into the Mississippi Protection Order Registry as provided in Section 93-21-25.

(3) At the time of registration, an individual registering a foreign protection order shall file an affidavit by the protected individual that, to the best of the individual’s knowledge, the order is in effect at the time of the registration.

(4) The failure to register a foreign protection order pursuant to the provisions of this section shall have no effect on the validity or enforceability of the order by Mississippi law enforcement or courts.

Title 97. Crimes

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Chapter 3. Crimes Against the Person

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

97-3-7. Simple and aggravated assault; simple and aggravated domestic violence

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1)(a) A person is guilty of simple assault if he or she (i) attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; (ii) negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; or (iii) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; and, upon conviction, he or she 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.

(b) However, a person convicted of simple assault upon any of the persons listed in subsection (14) of this section under the circumstances enumerated in subsection (14) shall be punished by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or by imprisonment for not more than five (5) years, or both.

(2)(a) A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he or she (i) attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life; (ii) attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; or (iii) causes any injury to a child who is in the process of boarding or exiting a school bus in the course of a violation of Section 63-3-615; and, upon conviction, he or she shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one (1) year or sentenced to the custody of the Department of Corrections for not more than twenty (20) years.

(b) However, a person convicted of aggravated assault upon any of the persons listed in subsection (14) of this section under the circumstances enumerated in subsection (14) shall be punished by a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) or by imprisonment for not more than thirty (30) years, or both.

(3)(a) When the offense is committed against a current or former spouse of the defendant or a child of that person, a person living as a spouse or who formerly lived as a spouse with the defendant or a child of that person, a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or someone similarly situated to the defendant, a person who has a current or former dating relationship with the defendant, or a person with whom the defendant has had a biological or legally adopted child, a person is guilty of simple domestic violence who:

(i) Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;

(ii) Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; or

(iii) Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm.

Upon conviction, the defendant 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.

(b) Simple domestic violence: third. A person is guilty of the felony of simple domestic violence third who commits simple domestic violence as defined in this subsection (3) and who, at the time of the commission of the offense in question, has two (2) prior convictions, whether against the same or another victim, within seven (7) years, for any combination of simple domestic violence under this subsection (3) or aggravated domestic violence as defined in subsection (4) of this section or substantially similar offenses under the law of another state, of the United States, or of a federally recognized Native American tribe. Upon conviction, the defendant shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not less than five (5) nor more than ten (10) years.

(4)(a) When the offense is committed against a current or former spouse of the defendant or a child of that person, a person living as a spouse or who formerly lived as a spouse with the defendant or a child of that person, a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or someone similarly situated to the defendant, a person who has a current or former dating relationship with the defendant, or a person with whom the defendant has had a biological or legally adopted child, a person is guilty of aggravated domestic violence who:

(i) Attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such an injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life;

(ii) Attempts to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm; or

(iii) Strangles, or attempts to strangle another.

Upon conviction, the defendant shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than two (2) nor more than twenty (20) years.

(b) Aggravated domestic violence; third. A person is guilty of aggravated domestic violence third who, at the time of the commission of that offense, commits aggravated domestic violence as defined in this subsection (4) and who has two (2) prior convictions within the past seven (7) years, whether against the same or another victim, for any combination of aggravated domestic violence under this subsection (4) or simple domestic violence third as defined in subsection (3) of this section, or substantially similar offenses under the laws of another state, of the United States, or of a federally recognized Native American tribe. Upon conviction for aggravated domestic violence third, the defendant shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than ten (10) nor more than twenty (20) years.

(5) Sentencing for fourth or subsequent domestic violence offense. Any person who commits an offense defined in subsection (3) or (4) of this section, and who, at the time of the commission of that offense, has at least three (3) previous convictions, whether against the same or different victims, for any combination of offenses defined in subsections (3) and (4) of this section or substantially similar offenses under the law of another state, of the United States, or of a federally recognized Native American tribe, shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to imprisonment for not less than fifteen (15) years nor more than twenty (20) years.

(6) In sentencing under subsections (3), (4) and (5) of this section, the court shall consider as an aggravating factor whether the crime was committed in the physical presence or hearing of a child under sixteen (16) years of age who was, at the time of the offense, living within either the residence of the victim, the residence of the perpetrator, or the residence where the offense occurred.

(7) Reasonable discipline of a child, such as spanking, is not an offense under subsections (3) and (4) of this section.

(8) A person convicted under subsection (4) or (5) of this section shall not be eligible for parole under the provisions of Section 47-7-3(1)(c) until he or she shall have served one (1) year of his or her sentence.

(9) For the purposes of this section:

(a) “Strangle” means to restrict the flow of oxygen or blood by intentionally applying pressure on the neck, throat or chest of another person by any means or to intentionally block the nose or mouth of another person by any means.

(b) “Dating relationship” means a social relationship as defined in Section 93-21-3.

(10) Every conviction under subsection (3), (4) or (5) of this section may require as a condition of any suspended sentence that the defendant participate in counseling or treatment to bring about the cessation of domestic abuse. The defendant may be required to pay all or part of the cost of the counseling or treatment, in the discretion of the court.

(11)(a) Upon conviction under subsection (3), (4) or (5) of this section, the court shall be empowered to issue a criminal protection order prohibiting the defendant from any contact with the victim. The court may include in a criminal protection order any other condition available under Section 93-21-15. The duration of a criminal protection order shall be based upon the seriousness of the facts before the court, the probability of future violations, and the continued safety of the victim or another person. However, municipal and justice courts may issue criminal protection orders for a maximum period of time not to exceed one (1) year. Circuit and county courts may issue a criminal protection order for any period of time deemed necessary. Upon issuance of a criminal protection order, the clerk of the issuing court shall enter the order in the Mississippi Protection Order Registry within twenty-four (24) hours of issuance with no exceptions for weekends or holidays, pursuant to Section 93-21-25.

(b) A criminal protection order shall not be issued against the defendant if the victim of the offense, or the victim’s lawful representative where the victim is a minor or incompetent person, objects to its issuance, except in circumstances where the court, in its discretion, finds that a criminal protection order is necessary for the safety and well-being of a victim who is a minor child or incompetent adult.

(c) Criminal protection orders shall be issued on the standardized form developed by the Office of the Attorney General and a copy provided to both the victim and the defendant.

(d) It shall be a misdemeanor to knowingly violate any condition of a criminal protection order. Upon conviction for a violation, the defendant 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.

(12) When investigating allegations of a violation of subsection (3), (4), (5) or (11) of this section, whether or not an arrest results, law enforcement officers shall utilize the form prescribed for such purposes by the Office of the Attorney General in consultation with the sheriff’s and police chief’s associations. However, failure of law enforcement to utilize the uniform offense report shall not be a defense to a crime charged under this section. The uniform offense report shall not be required if, upon investigation, the offense does not involve persons in the relationships specified in subsections (3) and (4) of this section.

(13) In any conviction under subsection (3), (4), (5) or (11) of this section, the sentencing order shall include the designation “domestic violence.” The court clerk shall enter the disposition of the matter into the corresponding uniform offense report.

(14) Assault upon any of the following listed persons is an aggravating circumstance for charging under subsections (1)(b) and (2)(b) of this section:

(a) When acting within the scope of his or her duty, office or employment at the time of the assault: a statewide elected official; law enforcement officer; fireman; emergency medical personnel; health care provider; employees of a health care provider or health care facility; social worker, family protection specialist or family protection worker employed by the Department of Human Services or another agency; Division of Youth Services personnel; any county or municipal jail officer; superintendent, principal, teacher or other instructional personnel, school attendance officer or school bus driver; any member of the Mississippi National Guard or United States Armed Forces; a judge of a circuit, chancery, county, justice, municipal or youth court or a judge of the Court of Appeals or a justice of the Supreme Court; district attorney or legal assistant to a district attorney; county prosecutor or municipal prosecutor; court reporter employed by a court, court administrator, clerk or deputy clerk of the court; public defender; or utility worker;

(b) A legislator while the Legislature is in regular or extraordinary session or while otherwise acting within the scope of his or her duty, office or employment; or

(c) A person who is sixty-five (65) years of age or older or a person who is a vulnerable person, as defined in Section 43-47-5.

97-3-51. Noncustodial parent or relative removing or holding child out of state

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) For the purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the meaning herein ascribed unless the context otherwise clearly requires:

(a) “Child” means a person under the age of fourteen (14) years at the time a violation of this section is alleged to have occurred.

(b) “Court order” means an order, decree or judgment of any court of this state which is competent to decide child custody matters.

(2) It shall be unlawful for any noncustodial parent or relative with intent to violate a court order awarding custody of a child to another to remove the child from this state or to hold the child out of state after the entry of a court order.

(3) Any person convicted of a violation of subsection (2) of this section shall be guilty of a felony and may be punished by a fine of not more than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00), or by imprisonment in the state penitentiary for a term not to exceed three (3) years, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(4) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to repeal, modify or amend any other criminal statute of this state.

97-3-65. Statutory rape; forcible sexual intercourse; criminal sexual assault protection orders

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) The crime of statutory rape is committed when:

(a) Any person seventeen (17) years of age or older has sexual intercourse with a child who:

(i) Is at least fourteen (14) but under sixteen (16) years of age;

(ii) Is thirty-six (36) or more months younger than the person; and

(iii) Is not the person’s spouse; or

(b) A person of any age has sexual intercourse with a child who:

(i) Is under the age of fourteen (14) years;

(ii) Is twenty-four (24) or more months younger than the person; and

(iii) Is not the person’s spouse.

(2) Neither the victim’s consent nor the victim’s lack of chastity is a defense to a charge of statutory rape.

(3) Upon conviction for statutory rape, the defendant shall be sentenced as follows:

(a) If eighteen (18) years of age or older, but under twenty-one (21) years of age, and convicted under subsection (1)(a) of this section, to imprisonment for not more than five (5) years in the State Penitentiary or a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or both;

(b) If twenty-one (21) years of age or older and convicted under subsection (1)(a) of this section, to imprisonment of not more than thirty (30) years in the State Penitentiary or a fine of not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00), or both, for the first offense, and not more than forty (40) years in the State Penitentiary for each subsequent offense;

(c) If eighteen (18) years of age or older and convicted under subsection (1)(b) of this section, to imprisonment for life in the State Penitentiary or such lesser term of imprisonment as the court may determine, but not less than twenty (20) years;

(d) If thirteen (13) years of age or older but under eighteen (18) years of age and convicted under subsection (1)(a) or (1)(b) of this section, such imprisonment, fine or other sentence as the court, in its discretion, may determine.

(4)(a) Every person who shall have forcible sexual intercourse with any person, or who shall have sexual intercourse not constituting forcible sexual intercourse or statutory rape with any person without that person’s consent by administering to such person any substance or liquid which shall produce such stupor or such imbecility of mind or weakness of body as to prevent effectual resistance, upon conviction, shall be imprisoned for life in the State Penitentiary if the jury by its verdict so prescribes; and in cases where the jury fails to fix the penalty at life imprisonment, the court shall fix the penalty at imprisonment in the State Penitentiary for any term as the court, in its discretion, may determine.

(b) This subsection (4) shall apply whether the perpetrator is married to the victim or not.

(5) In all cases where a victim is under the age of sixteen (16) years, it shall not be necessary to prove penetration where it is shown the genitals, anus or perineum of the child have been lacerated or torn in the attempt to have sexual intercourse with the child.

(6)(a) Upon conviction under this section, the court may issue a criminal sexual assault protection order prohibiting the offender from any contact with the victim, without regard to the relationship between the victim and offender. The court may include in a criminal sexual assault protection order any relief available under Section 93-21-15. The term of a criminal sexual assault protection order shall be for a time period determined by the court, but all orders shall, at a minimum, remain in effect for a period of two (2) years after the expiration of any sentence of imprisonment and subsequent period of community supervision, conditional release, probation, or parole. Upon issuance of a criminal sexual assault protection order, the clerk of the issuing court shall enter the order in the Mississippi Protection Order Registry within twenty-four (24) hours of issuance, with no exceptions for weekends or holidays as provided in Section 93-21-25, and a copy must be provided to both the victim and offender.

(b) Criminal sexual assault protection orders shall be issued on the standardized form developed by the Office of the Attorney General.

(c) It is a misdemeanor to knowingly violate any condition of a criminal sexual assault protection order. Upon conviction for a violation, the defendant 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. Any sentence imposed for the violation of a criminal sexual assault protection order shall run consecutively to any other sentences imposed on the offender. The court shall also be empowered to extend the criminal sexual assault protection order for a period of one (1) year for each violation. The incarceration of a person at the time of the violation is not a bar to prosecution under this section. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit the imposition of any other penalties or disciplinary action otherwise allowed by law or policy.

(7) For the purposes of this section, “sexual intercourse” shall mean a joining of the sexual organs of a male and female human being in which the penis of the male is inserted into the vagina of the female or the penetration of the sexual organs of a male or female human being in which the penis or an object is inserted into the genitals, anus or perineum of a male or female.

97-3-95. “Sexual battery” defined

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) A person is guilty of sexual battery if he or she engages in sexual penetration with:

(a) Another person without his or her consent;

(b) A mentally defective, mentally incapacitated or physically helpless person;

(c) A child at least fourteen (14) but under sixteen (16) years of age, if the person is thirty-six (36) or more months older than the child; or

(d) A child under the age of fourteen (14) years of age, if the person is twenty-four (24) or more months older than the child.

(2) A person is guilty of sexual battery if he or she engages in sexual penetration with a child under the age of eighteen (18) years if the person is in a position of trust or authority over the child including without limitation the child’s teacher, counselor, physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, minister, priest, physical therapist, chiropractor, legal guardian, parent, stepparent, aunt, uncle, scout leader or coach.

97-3-107. Stalking and aggravated stalking; elements; venue; defenses; penalties; restraining orders; definitions; application

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1)(a) Any person who purposefully engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, or who makes a credible threat, and who knows or should know that the conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her own safety, to fear for the safety of another person, or to fear damage or destruction of his or her property, is guilty of the crime of stalking.

(b) A person who is convicted of the crime of stalking under this section shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one (1) year or by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000. 00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.

(c) Any person who is convicted of a violation of this section when there is in effect at the time of the commission of the offense a valid temporary restraining order, ex parte protective order, protective order after hearing, court approved consent agreement, or an injunction issued by a municipal, justice, county, circuit or chancery court, federal or tribal court or by a foreign court of competent jurisdiction prohibiting the behavior described in this section against the same party, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one (1) year and by a fine of not more than One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00).

(2)(a) A person who commits acts that would constitute the crime of stalking as defined in this section is guilty of the crime of aggravated stalking if any of the following circumstances exist:

(i) At least one (1) of the actions constituting the offense involved the use or display of a deadly weapon with the intent to place the victim of the stalking in reasonable fear of death or great bodily injury to self or a third person;

(ii) Within the past seven (7) years, the perpetrator has been previously convicted of stalking or aggravated stalking under this section or a substantially similar law of another state, political subdivision of another state, of the United States, or of a federally recognized Indian tribe, whether against the same or another victim; or

(iii) At the time of the offense, the perpetrator was a person required to register as a sex offender pursuant to state, federal, military or tribal law and the victim was under the age of eighteen (18) years.

(b) Aggravated stalking is a felony punishable as follows:

(i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii), by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not more than five (5) years and a fine of not more than Three Thousand Dollars ($3,000.00).

(ii) If, at the time of the offense, the perpetrator was required to register as a sex offender pursuant to state, federal, military or tribal law, and the victim was under the age of eighteen (18) years, by imprisonment for not more than six (6) years in the custody of the Department of Corrections and a fine of Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00).

(3) Upon conviction, the sentencing court shall consider issuance of an order prohibiting the perpetrator from any contact with the victim. The duration of any order prohibiting contact with the victim shall be based upon the seriousness of the facts before the court, the probability of future violations, and the safety of the victim or another person.

(4) Every conviction of stalking or aggravated stalking may require as a condition of any suspended sentence or sentence of probation that the defendant, at his own expense, submit to psychiatric or psychological counseling or other such treatment or behavioral modification program deemed appropriate by the court.

(5) In any prosecution under this section, it shall not be a defense that the perpetrator was not given actual notice that the course of conduct was unwanted or that the perpetrator did not intend to cause the victim fear.

(6) When investigating allegations of a violation of this section, law enforcement officers shall utilize the Uniform Offense Report prescribed by the Office of the Attorney General in consultation with the sheriffs’ and police chiefs’ associations. However, failure of law enforcement to utilize the Uniform Offense Report shall in no way invalidate the crime charged under this section.

(7) For purposes of venue, any violation of this section shall be considered to have been committed in any county in which any single act was performed in furtherance of a violation of this section. An electronic communication shall be deemed to have been committed in any county from which the electronic communication is generated or in which it is received.

(8) For the purposes of this section:

(a) “Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of two (2) or more acts over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose and that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her own safety, to fear for the safety of another person, or to fear damage or destruction of his or her property. Such acts may include, but are not limited to, the following or any combination thereof, whether done directly or indirectly: (i) following or confronting the other person in a public place or on private property against the other person’s will; (ii) contacting the other person by telephone or mail, or by electronic mail or communication as defined in Section 97-45-1; or (iii) threatening or causing harm to the other person or a third party.

(b) “Credible threat” means a verbal or written threat to cause harm to a specific person or to cause damage to property that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the safety of that person or damage to the property.

(c) “Reasonable person” means a reasonable person in the victim’s circumstances.

(9) The incarceration of a person at the time the threat is made shall not be a bar to prosecution under this section. Constitutionally protected activity is not prohibited by this section.

Chapter 37. Weapons and Explosives

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

97-37-3. Forfeiture; sale at auction

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) Any weapon used in violation of Section 97-37-1, or used in the commission of any other crime, shall be seized by the arresting officer, may be introduced in evidence, and in the event of a conviction, shall be ordered to be forfeited, and shall be disposed of as ordered by the court having jurisdiction of such offense. In the event of dismissal or acquittal of charges, such weapon shall be returned to the accused from whom it was seized.

(2)(a) If the weapon to be forfeited is merchantable, the court may order the weapon forfeited to the seizing law enforcement agency.

(b) A weapon so forfeited to a law enforcement agency may be sold at auction as provided by Sections 19-3-85 and 21-39-21 to a federally-licensed firearms dealer, with the proceeds from such sale at auction to be used to buy bulletproof vests for the seizing law enforcement agency.

97-37-5. Possession by felon

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) It shall be unlawful for any person who has been convicted of a felony under the laws of this state, any other state, or of the United States to possess any firearm or any bowie knife, dirk knife, butcher knife, switchblade knife, metallic knuckles, blackjack, or any muffler or silencer for any firearm unless such person has received a pardon for such felony, has received a relief from disability pursuant to Section 925(c) of Title 18 of the United States Code, or has received a certificate of rehabilitation pursuant to subsection (3) of this section.

(2) Any person violating this section shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or committed to the custody of the State Department of Corrections for not less than one (1) year nor more than ten (10) years, or both.

(3) A person who has been convicted of a felony under the laws of this state may apply to the court in which he was convicted for a certificate of rehabilitation. The court may grant such certificate in its discretion upon a showing to the satisfaction of the court that the applicant has been rehabilitated and has led a useful, productive and law-abiding life since the completion of his sentence and upon the finding of the court that he will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.

(4)(a) A person who is discharged from court-ordered mental health treatment may petition the court which entered the commitment order for an order stating that the person qualifies for relief from a firearms disability.

(b) In determining whether to grant relief, the court must hear and consider evidence about:

(i) The circumstances that led to imposition of the firearms disability under 18 USC, Section 922(d)(4);

(ii) The person’s mental history;

(iii) The person’s criminal history; and

(iv) The person’s reputation.

(c) A court may not grant relief unless it makes and enters in the record the following affirmative findings:

(i) That the person is no longer likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety; and

(ii) Removing the person’s disability to purchase a firearm is not against the public interest.

Chapter 45. Computer Crimes and Identity Theft

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

97-45-15. Cyberstalking

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) It is unlawful for a person to:

(a) Use in electronic mail or electronic communication any words or language threatening to inflict bodily harm to any person or to that person’s child, sibling, spouse or dependent, or physical injury to the property of any person, or for the purpose of extorting money or other things of value from any person.

(b) Electronically mail or electronically communicate to another repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of threatening, terrifying or harassing any person.

(c) Electronically mail or electronically communicate to another and to knowingly make any false statement concerning death, injury, illness, disfigurement, indecent conduct, or criminal conduct of the person electronically mailed or of any member of the person’s family or household with the intent to threaten, terrify or harass.

(d) Knowingly permit an electronic communication device under the person’s control to be used for any purpose prohibited by this section.

(2) Whoever commits the offense of cyberstalking shall be punished, upon conviction:

(a) Except as provided herein, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than two (2) years or a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or both.

(b) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five (5) years or a fine of not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00), or both:

(i) The offense is in violation of a restraining order and the person has received actual notice of that restraining order or posting the message is in violation of an injunction or preliminary injunction.

(ii) The offense is in violation of a condition of probation, a condition of parole, a condition of pretrial release or a condition of release on bond pending appeal.

(iii) The offense results in a credible threat being communicated to the victim, a member of the victim’s family, or another individual living in the same household as the victim.

(iv) The person has been previously convicted of violating this section or a substantially similar law of another state, a political subdivision of another state, or of the United States.

(3) This section does not apply to any peaceable, nonviolent, or nonthreatening activity intended to express political views or to provide lawful information to others. This section shall not be construed to impair any constitutionally protected activity, including speech, protest or assembly.

97-45-19. Identity theft

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) A person shall not obtain or attempt to obtain personal identity information of another person with the intent to unlawfully use that information for any of the following purposes without that person’s authorization:

(a) To obtain financial credit.

(b) To purchase or otherwise obtain or lease any real or personal property.

(c) To obtain employment.

(d) To obtain access to medical records or information contained in medical records.

(e) To commit any illegal act.

(2) (a) A person who violates this section is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not less than two (2) nor more than fifteen (15) years or a fine of not more than Ten Thousand Dollars ($ 10,000.00), or both.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection (2), if the violation involves an amount of less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($ 250.00), a person who violates this section may be found guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of not more than six (6) months, or by a fine of not more than One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00), or both, in the discretion of the court.

(c) For purposes of determining the amount of the violation, the value of all goods, property, services and other things of value obtained or attempted to be obtained by the use of an individual’s identity information shall be aggregated.

(3) This section does not prohibit the person from being charged with, convicted of, or sentenced for any other violation of law committed by that person using information obtained in violation of this section.

(4) This section does not apply to a person who obtains or attempts to obtain personal identity information of another person pursuant to the discovery process of a civil action, an administrative proceeding or an arbitration proceeding.

(5) Upon the request of a person whose identifying information was appropriated, the Attorney General may provide assistance to the victim in obtaining information to correct inaccuracies or errors in the person’s credit report or other identifying information; however, no legal representation shall be afforded such person by the Office of the Attorney General.

(6) A person convicted under this section or under Section 97-19-85 shall be ordered to pay restitution as provided in Section 99-37-1 et seq., and any legal interest in addition to any other fine or imprisonment which may be imposed.

97-45-33. Online impersonation; penalties

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) Nothwithstanding any other provision of law, any person who knowingly and without consent impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet website or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening or defrauding another person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(2) For purposes of this section, an impersonation is credible if another person would reasonably believe, or did reasonably believe, that the defendant was or is the person who was impersonated.

(3) For purposes of this section, “electronic means” shall include opening an email account or an account or profile on a social networking Internet website in another person’s name.

(4) A violation of this section is punishable by a fine of not less than Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($ 250.00) and not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($ 1,000.00) or by imprisonment for not less than ten (10) days and not more than one (1) year, or both.

(5) This section shall not preclude prosecution under any other provision of law and shall be considered supplemental thereto.

Title 99. Criminal Procedure

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

Chapter 1. General Provisions; Time Limitations; Costs

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

99-1-5. Limitations; exceptions

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

The passage of time shall never bar prosecution against any person for the offenses of murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, aggravated domestic violence, kidnapping, arson, burglary, forgery, counterfeiting, robbery, larceny, rape, embezzlement, obtaining money or property under false pretenses or by fraud, felonious abuse or battery of a child as described in Section 97-5-39, touching or handling a child for lustful purposes as described in Section 97-5-23, sexual battery of a child as described in Section 97-3-95(1)(c), (d) or (2), exploitation of children as described in Section 97-5-33, promoting prostitution under Section 97-29-51(2) when the person involved is a minor, or for any human trafficking offense described in Section 97-3-54.1(1)(a), (1)(b) or (1)(c), Section 97-3-54.2, or Section 93-3-54.3. A person shall not be prosecuted for conspiracy, as described in Section 97-1-1, for felonious assistance-program fraud, as described in Section 97-19-71, or for felonious abuse of vulnerable persons, as described in Sections 43-47-18 and 43-47-19, unless the prosecution for the offense is commenced within five (5) years next after the commission thereof. A person shall not be prosecuted for larceny of timber as described in Section 97-17-59, unless the prosecution for the offense is commenced within six (6) years next after the commission thereof. A person shall not be prosecuted for any other offense not listed in this section unless the prosecution for the offense is commenced within two (2) years next after the commission thereof. Nothing contained in this section shall bar any prosecution against any person who shall abscond or flee from justice, or shall absent himself from this state or out of the jurisdiction of the court, or so conduct himself that he cannot be found by the officers of the law, or that process cannot be served upon him.

Chapter 3. Arrests

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

99-3-7. Warrantless arrests; domestic violence and protection order violations; intensive supervision program violations

Updated: 
January 27, 2020

(1) An officer or private person may arrest any person without warrant, for an indictable offense committed, or a breach of the peace threatened or attempted in his presence; or when a person has committed a felony, though not in his presence; or when a felony has been committed, and he has reasonable ground to suspect and believe the person proposed to be arrested to have committed it; or on a charge, made upon reasonable cause, of the commission of a felony by the party proposed to be arrested. And in all cases of arrests without warrant, the person making such arrest must inform the accused of the object and cause of the arrest, except when he is in the actual commission of the offense, or is arrested on pursuit.

(2) Any law enforcement officer may arrest any person on a misdemeanor charge without having a warrant in his possession when a warrant is in fact outstanding for that person’s arrest and the officer has knowledge through official channels that the warrant is outstanding for that person’s arrest. In all such cases, the officer making the arrest must inform such person at the time of the arrest the object and cause therefor. If the person arrested so requests, the warrant shall be shown to him as soon as practicable.

(3)(a) Any law enforcement officer shall arrest a person with or without a warrant when he has probable cause to believe that the person has, within twenty-four (24) hours of such arrest, knowingly committed a misdemeanor or felony that is an act of domestic violence or knowingly violated provisions of a criminal domestic violence or sexual assault protection order issued pursuant to Section 97-3-7(11), 97-3-65(6)or 97-3-101(5) or an ex parte protective order, protective order after hearing or court-approved consent agreement entered by a chancery, circuit, county, justice or municipal court pursuant to the Protection from Domestic Abuse Law, Sections 93-21-1 through 93-21-29, Mississippi Code of 1972, or a restraining order entered by a foreign court of competent jurisdiction to protect an applicant from domestic violence.

(b) If a law enforcement officer has probable cause to believe that two (2) or more persons committed an act of domestic violence as defined herein, or if two (2) or more persons make complaints of domestic violence to the officer, the officer shall attempt to determine who was the principal aggressor. The term principal aggressor is defined as the party who poses the most serious ongoing threat, or who is the most significant, rather than the first, aggressor. The officer shall presume that arrest is not the appropriate response for the person or persons who were not the principal aggressor. If the officer affirmatively finds more than one (1) principal aggressor was involved, the officer shall document those findings.

(c) To determine which party was the principal aggressor, the officer shall consider the following factors, although such consideration is not limited to these factors:

(i) Evidence from the persons involved in the domestic abuse;

(ii) The history of domestic abuse between the parties, the likelihood of future injury to each person, and the intent of the law to protect victims of domestic violence from continuing abuse;

(iii) Whether one (1) of the persons acted in self-defense; and

(iv) Evidence from witnesses of the domestic violence.

(d) A law enforcement officer shall not base the decision of whether to arrest on the consent or request of the victim.

(e) A law enforcement officer’s determination regarding the existence of probable cause or the lack of probable cause shall not adversely affect the right of any party to independently seek appropriate remedies.

(4)(a) Any person authorized by a court of law to supervise or monitor a convicted offender who is under an intensive supervision program may arrest the offender when the offender is in violation of the terms or conditions of the intensive supervision program, without having a warrant, provided that the person making the arrest has been trained at the Law Enforcement Officers Training Academy established under Section 45-5-1 et seq., or at a course approved by the Board on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Training.

(b) For the purposes of this subsection, the term “intensive supervision program” means an intensive supervision program of the Department of Corrections as described in Section 47-5-1001 et seq., or any similar program authorized by a court for offenders who are not under jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections.

(5) As used in subsection (3) of this section, the phrase “misdemeanor or felony that is an act of domestic violence” shall mean one or more of the following acts between current or former spouses or a child of current or former spouses, persons living as spouses or who formerly lived as spouses or a child of persons living as spouses or who formerly lived as spouses, a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or someone similarly situated to the defendant, persons who have a current or former dating relationship, or persons who have a biological or legally adopted child together:

(a) Simple or aggravated domestic violence within the meaning of Section 97-3-7;

(b) Disturbing the family or public peace within the meaning of Section 97-35-9, 97-35-11, 97-35-13 or 97-35-15; or

(c) Stalking within the meaning of Section 97-3-107.

(6) Any arrest made pursuant to subsection (3) of this section shall be designated as domestic assault or domestic violence on both the arrest docket and the incident report. Any officer investigating a complaint of a misdemeanor or felony that is a crime of domestic violence who finds probable cause that such an offense has occurred within the past twenty-four (24) hours shall file an affidavit on behalf of the victim(s) of the crime, regardless of whether an arrest is made within that time period. If the crime is reported or investigated outside of that twenty-four-hour period, the officer may file the affidavit on behalf of the victim. In the event the officer does not file an affidavit on behalf of the victim, the officer shall instruct the victim of the procedure for filing on his or her own behalf.

(7) A law enforcement officer shall not be held liable in any civil action for an arrest based on probable cause and in good faith pursuant to subsection (3) of this section, or failure, in good faith, to make an arrest pursuant to subsection (3) of this section.

(8) The authority for the State Chief Deputy Fire Marshal and deputy state fire marshals to make arrests shall be governed by the provisions of Section 45-11-1.