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Jackson

What Happens in Mississippi’s Hinds County Felony Court, 48 Hours After Arrest

We explain terms like bond, initial appearance, grand jury and indictment, and why the first 48 hours are critical to your freedom.

Paper cutout collage with a person looking confused in the center, surrounded by: handcuffs, police car, gavel, manilla envelope with magnifying glass, money, people in front of a jury stand.

Were you or someone you know charged with a felony in Hinds County? This resource guide will let you know what to expect.

You can download a printable pdf here.

To learn more about jail, the courts, your rights and legal resources, read our answers to questions about felony court in Jackson and Hinds County. Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on our Mississippi coverage.

Arrest

If you are arrested in Mississippi on a felony charge, you will typically be held in a local county jail. 
If you are arrested in Jackson by Jackson Police, you'll typically appear in Jackson Municipal Court
If you are arrested in Hinds County outside of a city, you'll typically appear in Hinds County Court Initial Appearance

Within 48 hours of your arrest, you are required to see a judge for a hearing. Three important actions will happen: 
You will be informed of the charges against you. 
A judge will decide if you can be released from jail before trial and if you will have to pay money, called bond, to be released.
A judge will determine if you qualify for a public defender, a lawyer who represents low-income defendants free of charge.
Your case may move to the Hinds County Court, if your initial appearance took place in a different court. Preliminary Hearing

After your initial appearance, your defense lawyer may request an additional hearing in order to learn more about the evidence that could be used against you by the prosecutor.
Grand Jury and Indictment 

You cannot be sent to trial without an official indictment. The Hinds County District Attorney’s Office will convene a group of voters known as a grand jury to determine if the prosecutor has enough evidence to pursue a felony case against you.
Arraignment 

If the grand jury indicts you, you will be arraigned. During the arraignment hearing, you will be presented with the indictment and formally charged with your alleged crimes. You are presumed innocent unless you are found guilty at the end of a trial.
Your case will move to the Hinds County Circuit Court, where it will stay until a final decision in the case is reached.
Cases can be resolved in several ways: 
You may accept a plea deal to avoid a jury trial, which often leads to a reduced penalty. 
You may opt to go to trial, during which a jury will decide if you are guilty or not guilty of your charges.
A judge may dismiss your case.

Caleb Bedillion Twitter Email is a staff writer for The Marshall Project. He will delve into prisons, police and courts, and collaborate with local news outlets and publishing partners to expose inequities in the criminal justice system in Jackson, Mississippi. Bedillion comes to The Marshall Project from The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he served as the politics and investigations editor. He most recently worked with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network on stories that exposed widespread missteps within the Mississippi court systems involving indigent defense and no-knock search warrants, which led to a performance complaint against a judge. Bedillion holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Mississippi College and a master’s in religion from Yale University Divinity School.