Ordinances vs. Statutes in Jackson, Mississippi and throughout the state

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“What’s the difference between an ordinance and a statute?” I have fielded this question quite a few times in the past week. These two terms are commonly misused because we simply repeat what we have already heard through the media, whether it be the news or the paper.

Ordinances are enforceable at the city level only and only by the particular city that enacted the specific ordinance (unless it’s a county ordinance, and then it covers the entire county). In other words, an ordinance in the city of Jackson cannot be enforced in the city of Vicksburg. Ordinances may only address misdemeanor violations and shall never address felonies. Any violations of a city ordinance are handled by that city’s municipal court. While each city has a different procedure for approving an ordinance, usually these ordinances have been drafted by someone in the city or the city attorney’s office and have then been adopted by the board of aldermen or city council and then approved by the city’s mayor. Violating a city ordinance can result in a fine and/or jail time. Keep in mind that any time an individual goes to court and is found guilty of violating a city ordinance, that individual is responsible for paying court costs and assessments, which is usually anywhere between $100 and $200 depending on the violation. A listing of Jackson ordinances can be found here.

Statutes are enforceable throughout the entire state, including at the municipal court level. These are enacted by the state legislature and are regarded a bit higher than ordinances. Statutes have been kicked around committee hearings in the legislature and have withstood review by both the House and Senate, and then were signed into law by the sitting governor. These laws can still be considered unconstitutional by the Mississippi Supreme Court for a variety of reasons. A violation of a misdemeanor statute can result of a fine and/or jail time up to a year in the county jail. When in court for a violation of a statute, whether it be misdemeanor or felony, there will always be court costs and assessments attached to any sort of fine the defendant may be required to pay. The entire Miss. Code can be found here. As my boss says many, many times, “a code lawyer is a dangerous lawyer.”

If you have any questions about your understanding of the law where you live, feel free to call the attorneys at Coxwell & Associates so that we may help you.

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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