What is a Criminal Affidavit

A criminal affidavit is a sworn document that begins a prosecution against someone charging them with having committed a crime, or it can be part of a arrest/search warrant. In Mississippi a law enforcement officer is not supposed to arrest a person for a misdemeanor unless that misdemeanor was committed in the officer’s presence. Recently, the term “officer’s presence” has been interpreted by our Supreme Court to include information that comes to the officer through his senses. When a officer does not witness the commission of a misdemeanor, then he usually arrests on the basis of an affidavit. If a person feels someone has committed a misdemeanor against them, then they can go sign a sworn affidavit and a judge will issue an arrest warrant. After an officer brings someone in to jail for committing a crime in his presence, he will also sign an affidavit that the person committed the crime. The sworn affidavit is the “charging document” just like an Indictment is in a felony case.

If you are arrested for a misdemeanor State law allows you to obtain copies of the arrest warrant and affidavit. By reading the affidavit you can get a very good idea of what crime you have been accused of committing. In Justice Court I have see many affidavits that are so poorly written that they fail to charge a crime. Justice Court personnel are not permitted to give legal advice so if you go file an affidavit you will have to be as complete in the listing of the facts as you can.

You will also find sworn affidavits as part of search warrants. Before a house can be searched the law enforcement officer must present a sworn affidavit, also called the “Underlying Facts and Circumstances,” which explains to the Judge in detail why the police officer should have the right to search the house. There must be probable cause to believe that something illegal or subject to seizure is at the house. Probable cause means a reasonable belief. Police are not permitted to go on “fishing expeditions” looking for evidence of a crime. In order to understand these terms and concepts it is often necessary to study cases that have been decided by the Court of Appeals.

At Coxwell & Associates we have experienced attorneys in both criminal trials and appeals. While many lawyers do not enjoy researching and writing briefs to Appellate Courts, our attorneys are great writers and have handled over 120 appeals. When other lawyers talk about their experience, you can actually research us and see the good work we have performed in appeals.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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