In Family Law, dealing with divorce and child custody issues are enough to keep any attorney busy. With ever-changing emotions, gray areas of the law relating to dividing assets and assessing how a particular judge may determine the best interests of a child, attorneys and clients don’t need more on their plate to deal with. But, there is more…Jail!
It is quite common for Family law matters to “spill over” into Justice Court or Municipal Courts. Most commonly are assault, trespass and domestic violence violations. I have included portions of the statute for you to review, below and italicized common issues.
The severity of these charges depends in large part on the severity of the circumstances, the severity of injuries, if any, and whether there is a history of violations or abuse. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for one spouse to attempt to use these criminal allegations to “one-up” the other and attempt to use the criminal charges as leverage in divorce negotiations.
Lawyers would be wise to warn their clients about the possibility of a client losing their cool, even once, leading to criminal charges and that, perhaps, their former significant other may “create” circumstances in the hopes of using those against them in a later or pending divorce action.
§ 97-3-7. Simple assault
(1) (a) A person is guilty of simple assault if he (i) attempts to cause or purposely…causes bodily injury to another; (ii) negligently causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon… or (iii) attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm; shall be punished by a fine of not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($ 500.00) or by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, or both.
§ 97-17-85. Trespass; going upon inclosed land of another
If any person shall go upon the enclosed land of another without his consent, after having been notified by such person …not to do so …or shall remain on such land after a request by such person; shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than Fifty Dollars ($ 50.00).
(3) A person is guilty of simple domestic violence who commits simple assault as described in subsection (1) of this section (see simple assault) against a current or former spouse … upon conviction, the defendant shall be punished as provided under subsection (1) …a third conviction of simple domestic violence…within five (5) years, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and sentenced to a term of imprisonment not less than five (5) nor more than ten (10) years.
§ 97-3-7. Aggravated domestic violence
(4) A person is guilty of aggravated domestic violence who commits aggravated assault as described in subsection (2) of this section against, or who strangles, or attempts to strangle, a current or former spouse … Upon conviction, the defendant shall be punished by imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections for not less than two (2) years nor more than twenty (20) years… a third conviction of aggravated domestic violence…within five (5) years, the defendant shall be guilty of a felony and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than ten (10) nor more than twenty (20) years.
(2) (a) A person is guilty of aggravated assault if he (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 shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one (1) year or in the Penitentiary for not more than twenty (20) years.
Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that has only been to jail to help his clients get out. He intends to keep it that way and hopes (advises) that you do too!
Valentine’s Day is one of the most popular days to get engaged! Along with Christmas and New Years, Valentine’s Day is the holiday for popping the question. But who gets the RING if things don’t pan out?
In Mississippi, the ring is a pre-marriage gift. It can be argued that the ring is actually a conditional gift creating a contractual obligation. How Romantic!
Here’s the scenario. An offer of marriage is proposed and a ring given in exchange for a “Yes,” being an agreement to marry. So long as both parties uphold their end; the fellow gives the ring and the lady marries the fellow = offer + acceptance & valuable consideration. At this point the contract is fulfilled and the rings is now the property of the lady. But what if they were only married for a minute? Well, if they married the contract is fulfilled. Certainly, there could be exceptions due to fraud or overreaching, but these are not typical.
The chancellor properly concluded that the engagement ring was a gift from [the fellow] to [the lady]. That gift necessarily predated the marriage of the parties. Thus, it was an asset brought by [the lady] into the marriage and was not a marital asset subject to equitable division. MacDonald v. MacDonald,698 So.2d 1079 (¶ 13) (Miss.1997). It was, therefore, beyond the chancellor’s authority to order [the lady] to return possession of that item to [the fellow] and the refusal to do so cannot constitute reversible error on appeal. Neville v. Neville, 734 So.2d 352 (Ms.App. 1997).
Want to be safe, legally speaking anyway? Then make your marriage proposal contingent, as follows*:
I love you and desire to marry you. As a symbol of same, I am making a wholly contingent offer to you of this ring, of significant monetary and sentimental value, but a likewise sizable lien against same, in exchange for your promise to marry me. In the event that we do NOT get married, then said ring shall be returned to me in the same condition as presented, or alternatively you may elect to assume said lien, in full, for said ring and shall indemnify and defend me from any liability thereon. ‘Will you accept this rose?'” *(a paraphrase of colleague J. Kitchens)
Matthew Thompson is a family law attorney that you can engage in the event you need a divorce, and if you use the above contingent marriage proposal, you just might!