Mississippi, like all other states, has a process for the public obtaining criminal records. The Criminal Information Center under the Mississippi Highway Patrol is the repository for records and carries on the administration for criminal history improvement programs for Mississippi.
The CIC is the one who communicates with other agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) system and other national and statewide data exchanges as well as law enforcement.
Accessing criminal records is important to the public for journalists and others to do data research, follow up on cases, and relay information to the public. It is also important for private citizens to assist with licensing and their own cases.
Finding criminal records in Mississippi isn’t as difficult as other states because it has a central agency where all records are available. Requests can be made online, in person, by fax, and by mail.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state. In the State of Mississippi, criminal records are available online, in person, by fax, and by mail.
What is included in a Mississippi criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Mississippi criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Mississippi criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Traffic records
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Prior arrests
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many practical reasons why someone would want to access criminal records. One of the most common reasons is to get professional licensing. Many trades from nursing and doctors, to construction contractors, child care workers, elder care workers mandate that those applying for licensing submit a background check.
Criminal background checks are also required for those adopting children or applying for a work visa. Crime victims want to keep track of perpetrators’ sentencing and requests for parole. Attorneys do background checks when accepting a new client or litigating a case. It is also required for some rental housing.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
When you access a criminal record, the person listed on the record may have an offense listed. Criminal offenses are usually broken into three categories: Infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
An infraction is a minor violation, a misdemeanor is more serious, and a felony is the most serious type of crime.
To better understand the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each offense and its severity:
- Infraction: A small traffic violation or littering are considered infractions. An infraction is a minor violation of the law. Usually, punishments are a warning or a fine. Typically, no jail time is associated with an infraction.
- Misdemeanor: If someone were to get a DUI or a drug violation, it’s considered a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is more serious than an infraction but less severe than a felony. Jail time of less than a year or probation are usually associated with these types of crimes. Likely, the offender will do time in a local or county jail.
- Felony: Murder, rape, and arson are considered felony charges. A felony is the most serious type of crime. Offenders are typically sentenced to jail for more than a year and are likely held in a state or federal facility.
What is the difference between a Mississippi arrest record and a Mississippi criminal record?
An arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest. A criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
Both types of documents are usually public records in the United States, although information about specific arrests may be sealed and rendered inaccessible to the public for a variety of reasons.
Whether an arrest record or a criminal record is accessed, the information listed is for state crimes only. If a person is involved in a federal crime, this information is not listed on a state record.
How do I search for a Mississippi criminal record?
It is more difficult to search and find criminals records in Mississippi than in other states because there is no online support to search for criminal records or find the proper forms to request documents.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be done online. The state requires those requesting an internet criminal check will also be able to submit fingerprints electronically. They will need the subject’s first and last name, their Social Security number, and their birthdate. However, there isn’t a link on the state page to do an internet search, so those wanting that option will need to contact the CIC.
Every state, including Mississippi, has open records laws that it must abide by relating to public documents. Anyone can mail an open records request to the CIC to request criminal records. To ensure the request is honored, be sure to include the legal name of the person, a birthdate, a residence, and other identifying information. It could take weeks to get records and there could be a fee that must be disclosed and paid before sending the information.
People who want to get a fingerprint validation of criminal records can do that in person or by mail. People seeking a background check must submit an authorization to release information to the CIC at the Department of Public Safety. It has to be signed by the subject and there are fees. Fingerprinting will need to be done by an authorized provider.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Mississippi criminal record?
A hard copy of criminal records can be obtained by printing out the online record, requesting a physical copy by mail or fax, or requesting it in person. There are fees for hard copies of criminal records as the state charges for labor and copying. Fees can vary depending on the record. The Division of Motor Services handles many of these records in Mississippi.
How do I search for Mississippi criminal case court records?
Obtaining court records in Mississippi can be challenging. They can be requested at the district courts, appellate courts, and the Mississippi Supreme Court handling the case. Those wanting court records will need to make a written request to the court. It typically takes three working days after receiving payment to get records to requesters if the documents are in the office.
The minimum copy fee is $.50 per page and $2.00 per page for copying from bound volumes. Briefs and court documents can’t be faxed and the court can’t copy entire case files for requesters.
Only attorneys in good standing with the court can check out a record on appeal. Those who are representing themselves can get a copy and those in the clerk’s office will assist with that. However, individuals requesting are responsible to pay for shipping costs, which could be expensive depending on the case.
Does Mississippi allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
Mississippi is stricter than most regarding expungement and sealing. The state doesn’t destroy expunged records but archives them from public view. The exemption is when a youth court orders that records be destroyed.
Also, those seeking expungement must meet the criteria. According to Mississippi law, those that can seek expungement include:
- Juveniles and adults where there was a dismissal, charges dropped, or no disposition of the case.
- Those convicted of a misdemeanor.
- Those eligible for relief of a 1983 change in the law.
- Someone held but not charged with a crime within a year of the incident.
- Those who have a first or second marijuana conviction and where the charge and sentence served was more than two years ago.
- Those who have completed their drug sentence.
How can I have false information on a Mississippi criminal record corrected?
There isn’t an outlined process for correcting false information in Mississippi but every state must remove false information when requested. There are a couple of ways to request that incorrect information be fixed. The first is to submit a request to the CIC. Those requesting will need a copy of their criminal records check as well as any court documents, identification info and other documents to prove the record is false.
Many incidences of false information can be attributed to mistaken identity issues such as wrong addresses, similar birthdates, and similar names. These issues can be fixed with proper records.
The other option is to file a petition to a judge to make changes. Requesters would need to submit documents proving the falsehoods to the court.
How long are Mississippi criminal records kept on file?
Criminal files are kept on file in Mississippi indefinitely.