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Jackson Legal Issues Blog

Criminal defense: basic facts and approaches

There is hardly a more upsetting experience than the discovery of a false accusation. When the accusation is over a serious crime, the situation can become all the more complicated; oftentimes, Mississippi residents are left without guidance and direction. 

When a criminal charge is on the line, so is an individual's life. Because this topic can be an incredibly complex one, it is important to know the ins and outs of criminal defense cases, as well as common approaches to handling such a pressing matter.

Whose drugs are they?

If you are charged with possession of drugs in Mississippi, your life is about to become very complicated and possibly very scary. What you need most is an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to guide you through the prosecution process and aggressively defend your rights. After all, your freedom is at stake. Depending on which drug the prosecutor alleges you possessed and how much of it you allegedly had, you could face up to 20 years in prison if you receive a conviction.

One common situation in drug cases is where law enforcement officials found the drugs in your home or car. Setting aside the crucial question of whether or not the officers legally found and seized the drugs by means of a valid search warrant, the question still remains: Were they really your drugs or someone else’s?

The ins and outs of anesthesia complications

Planning a medical procedure that requires anesthesia can be the beginning of a new chapter in health, as well as a daunting obstacle. In addition to the moutains of paperwork, Mississippi patients must place a great deal of trust in someone they likely have never met when planning an operation. If the doctor betrays that trust, the patient could face a number of health risks -- and could even have a life on the line.

Any involvement with a medical professional requires trust on some level, but anethesia inevitably makes a patient vulnerable. Scientific American weighs the pros and cons of the three main types of anesthesia, looking at the hidden dangers of this practice. Scientific American brought to attention the possible side effects of anesthesia that renders a patient unable to recall memories. Known as postoperative delirium, this confusion post-surgery can last for days. In decades past, scientists suspected that a dosage too large could result in this prolonged confusion, but also expressed difficulty in differentiating between confusion brought on by anesthesia and stress from the surgery itself. More recently, researchers are beginning to place the blame on anesthesia and incorrect amounts given to patients. 

Confirming a doctor's ethical practices

A plethora of Mississippi residents find comfort in knowing that reliable health care is right around the corner. For some, regular doctor visits and treatment is part of a life routine. Because so many patients rely on sufficient medical advice to lead healthy lives, an ethically sound and honest doctor is an absolute must.

Earlier this month, U.S. News highlighted one local doctor's current medical malpractice case, in which the doctor -- also the head of the Mississippi State Board of Licensure -- faces 12 malpractice lawsuits. Dr. Kenneth Cleveland did not face charges on some of the lawsuits, nor did the licensing board find any suspicious actions in his practice. His current specialization at a medical spa has seen positive feedback from patients and colleagues. However, Cleveland has been accused of malpractice, and continues to assert his innocence by pointing to an overall conflict of interest among the state's medical association.  

The reality of slip and fall accidents

Many Mississippi residents assume that slip and fall cases are rare occurrences. However, a quick slip on a freshly mopped floor or icy sidewalk can be the beginning of long recovery process, or worse, permanent damages. Most of these accidents could also have been prevented by a simple sign on the door or other area of a facility. Below are some of the most common injuries, as well as potential dangers, people can face after slip and fall accidents. 

The National Safety Council provides an accessible brochure on slips, trips and falls, estimating that such accidents accounted for over 30,000 deaths in 2014. These incidents typically occur around doorways, cluttered aisles and hallways, uneven surfaces, areas prone to wetness and unstable work surfaces. These accidents do not only involve the elderly, either; sometimes, just one misstep on the wrong surface can result in a catastrophe. The NSC encourages the public to maintain awareness of freshly cleaned floors, debris cluttering walkways and of other potential hazards that could threaten safety, no matter the setting. 

Should I seek an annulment instead of a divorce?

When you are considering a divorce, you might wish the marriage never occurred in the first place. This is a completely understandable feeling, although you might think it is impossible and unreasonable. However, you may not realize that in some cases, it may be possible for you and other Mississippi residents to dissolve a marriage as if it had never existed.

This is known as an annulment. This legal process treats the marriage as null and void, and after its completion, there is no record of your marriage having existed. You should understand that courts grant annulments only in limited circumstances, such as the following:

  • Fraud – Your husband never told you about something while you were dating that would have made you reconsider marrying him, such as having prior charges of domestic violence or being deeply in debt.
  • Bigamy – You find out after you are married that your husband is still legally married to at least one other woman.
  • Force – You felt threatened, pressured or coerced into the marriage.
  • No cohabitation – You and your husband never lived together or consummated your marriage.

Dog breeds, aggressiveness and the law

Dogs are humans' best friends for a reason. However, that reason can become unclear when a furry friend turns unexpectedly. These situations are certainly heartbreaking for the owner, but are outright dangerous for the victim; after all, just one attack can come with deadly costs. For Mississippi residents, the law is the law when it comes to dangerous dogs and protecting neighborhoods. 

WLOX News shared a dog bite story from just last month, where one grandmother from Moss Point suffered serious injuries while attempting to visit a friend in the neighborhood. While knocking on the door of a friend's house, a Pit Bull approached the woman and began biting her ankle; the woman continued to run from the dog, but to no avail. The dog, owned by a man in the area, had been roaming the neighborhood for weeks. The dog managed to rip tendons from the woman's arm, as well as inflict serious damage to her legs and torso. The first officer on the scene shot the dog. The local grandmother has undergone multiple reconstructive surgeries as a result of the attack. As for Mississippi's laws surrounding dog bites, WLOX noted that the state does not currently restrict any specific breeds. Despite this side of the law, some cities have enacted their own laws on dangerous dogs. Although these local regulations have sparked debate, they allegedly judge a dog based on its behavior instead of its breed.

When do I need a non-disclosure agreement?

When operating a business in Mississippi, you will frequently need to enter into contracts for a variety of reasons. One of the types of contracts you may want to familiarize yourself with is the non-disclosure agreement, also called a confidentiality agreement.

As the name implies, this type of contract is designed to ensure that some information you share with another entity is kept secure and confidential. As explained by Forbes, one of the times that you may consider creating such an agreement is when you are looking at selling your company. It is likely that you may have discussions with a potential buyer but that no sale actually happens. In this case you would want to ensure that what you shared does not end up getting used against you in a competitive situation, for example. A non-disclosure agreement may help you here.

QDROs and retirement plans in a divorce

For many people in Mississippi, their retirement plans and their homes can be their two largest financial assets. Therefore, concerns about how to address a division of these assets when getting a divorce is understandable. Employer-sponsored retirement accounts like 401K accounts must be handled carefully when splitting them in a divorce in order to avoid losing unecessary money.

The United States Department of Labor explains that withdrawals from a 401K account are typically only allowed by the person who owns the account. In addition, any withdrawals by that account owner that do not meet the criteria for retirement purposes may be subject to early withdrawal penalties as well as income tax. This means that if a person who owns a 401K takes money out of that fund and pays it to a former spouse as part of a property division settlement might be subject to these penalties and taxes.

How many people die in car accidents in Mississippi?

As car makers continually develop and add new safety features to vehicles, it might seem logical for people in Mississippi to think that the roads are actually safer than in prior years or generations. However, the reality remains that human drivers continue to make very unwise and often unsafe choices that put innocent people at risk every day. As a result, people are still dying on Mississippi roads and highways.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were a total of 690 vehicular fatalities statewide in 2016, more than in any year since 2009 when 700 fatalities were recorded. In that timespan, accident deaths hit their lowest point in 2012 with 582 people losing their lives. Fatalities rose to 613 the following year and dipped just slightly to 607 in 2014 only to jump dramatically to 677 in 2015.