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Criminal Defense

Every experienced criminal lawyer has heard a story like this: “My aunt’s son’s girlfriend had a lawyer that got her out of it.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that! The first thing to know about criminal cases is this: every single case is different. What worked in one case will not always work in another, and taking advice from “street lawyers,” as I like to call them, in not in your best interest. You always need to speak with an experienced, knowledgeable criminal lawyer when you’re facing a criminal charge.

We have successfully defended thousands of clients charged with crimes, from serious felonies of murder and drug trafficking crimes, to DUI charges and other misdemeanors. Here is a little more about criminal defense:

Serious Crimes

When to Speak to the Police or Not to?

There is no easier way for the police to make their case against you than by your own statement. Keep in mind that police, once they zero in on a suspect, have a job to do, and that often entails trying to get your statement, or as they like to classify it, your “confession”. They are not there to help you, they are there to build their case. This doesn’t mean that giving a statement cannot be a helpful tool to you and your attorney, but NEVER GIVE A STATEMENT WITHOUT A LAWYER.

A Word on Miranda v. Arizona

A Miranda warning is something that we’ve all heard from the movies. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you. You have the right to have an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”

In all my years of practice, I’ve never seen an interview with a suspect shut down so a public defender can be found for him. It just doesn’t happen in real world time. Another aspect of Miranda that a lot of people don’t know from the movies is this: THE MIRANDA WARNING ONLY APPLIES TO CUSTODIAL INTERROGATIONS. It does not apply to every statement you give to the police. For instance, a police officer can approach any person and ask them questions, just like anyone else can. You don’t have to answer those questions. However, if you do, even if he doesn’t give you a Miranda warning those statements can be used against you.

Whether you are or are not in police custody is the question. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you were handcuffed and charged. It all depends on the facts of the particular stop.

What do you do when you’ve already given a statement against yourself? Number one, don’t panic. Remember that our experience counts, and a good criminal lawyer can find a solution. If your statement was not given freely and voluntarily, it can be suppressed and thrown out. And just because that Miranda waiver is typed stating that you gave your consent, that isn’t the end of the investigation. Were you on medication when you gave the statement? Had you been up for a long time without sleep? Some clients also experience detoxing, and will say almost anything if they believe it will get them a bond to get out of jail. Finally, did the investigators promise you anything for your supposed cooperation? Any of these scenarios could be a good ground for suppression based on duress or involuntariness.

Drug Crimes, Burglaries, and Thefts

The most common felony charged these days is a drug-related charge. Possession of a controlled substance is unlawful, and the type of substance defines what the severity of punishment is. Possession of a Schedule I or II substance is the most severe. These substances include cocaine, heroine, and methamphetamine, along with a host of other substances.

However, more often than not, prosecutors tend to charge a defendant with as severe a charge as possible, and a possession charge is often enhanced to possession with intent to distribute or transfer, or sale of a controlled substance, which often involves alleged informants. As you can imagine, a possession with intent or sale charge is more severe; “trafficking” in a controlled substance, for instance, can get you forty years, with the first ten years done without possibility of parole.

Post Conviction Relief

Even if a client has already plead guilty and have been sentenced, there are avenues for your possible early release. If you can prove your plea wasn’t given voluntarily and knowingly, you may be entitled to have your guilty plea vacated. These motions may come in the form of of PCR, or post conviction relief, or by statutory authority granting early parole for example. There is generally a three year time limit on PCR motions, absent new DNA or biological evidence. Depending on your sentence, there may be other statutes which could afford a client some relief, such as early parole. As recently as June 2020, we have seen the Mississippi legislature pass House Bill 1223, which would grant even those sentenced as habitual criminals the ability to petition for an early release. We have handled many of these types of cases under the existing statutes, and if passed, this law could grant many more defendants a possible avenue for release.

Expungements and Gun Rights

Here at John J. McNeil Attorney at Law, we handle hundreds of expungement motions, both felony and misdemeanor. An expungement places you in the legal position you were in before any finding of guilt to a particular crime, whether by guilty plea or trial. Expungements can be done for misdemeanor charges or many felony charges. DUI expungements are also available by filing a motion to expunge the matter in circuit court. There are several statutes that come into play when talking about expungements. We will review your particular set of facts to see which statutes and case law are your best avenue to proceed.

Even if an expungement is not available for you due to a certain felony, you may still be able to get your right to carry a firearm back. This is called a motion for rehabilitation, and, like expungements, we have successfully handled numerous motions like this for our clients.

Client Reviews

"John J. McNeil handled my case professionally and efficiently, and really worked hard on my charges. Not only was he explanatory of the process, he kept me informed throughout. He was able to get the felony charges against me dismissed, and I couldn't be happier with his work. I feel that he has a...

Courtney L.

"I have used john for yrs ! He has always been honest and never tried to push me into something that would hurt me in the future. I would use him again . If someone needs a lawyer he is for sure a great lawyer and tells it like it is . It’s not all about the money for him he really cares about his...


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