20+ Not Guilty
Over 100 Jury Trials
to Verdict
Handled 1,000s of Felony &
Misdemeanor Cases
Member of:
Justia Lawyer Rating
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
The National Trial Lawyers
Lawyers of Distinction

Gulfport Criminal Lawyer

Mississippi Gulf Coast Criminal Defense Attorney Fights to Protect Client’s Rights Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney

The experience and knowledge of the criminal justice system is very important in choosing a criminal defense lawyer. Jim Davis has 35 years of criminal law experience handling thousands of felonies and misdemeanors, and over 100 jury trials with many “not guilty” verdicts.

Criminal charges are a life altering event in any person’s life charged with any crime. Good criminal defense attorneys want to relieve an accused person of anxiety, stress and depression, and assure that accused individual that they are going to make this allegation against you

  1. Cause the least interruption in your life as possible;
  2. Attempt to allow you to maintain your homelife;
  3. Maintain your integrity; and
  4. If you need help, we help you obtain that assistance.

People ask why I am a Gulfport criminal lawyer, and I point out that as every week that goes by, I look back on that week and know I helped someone. Helping people is what true good criminal defense attorneys do.


Capital Murder: United States Supreme Court Justice Bryer recently pointed out “The Second Circuit Court District of Mississippi (Harrison, Hancock and Stone Counties) accounts for the largest number of death sentences of any of the State’s 22 districts since 1976.” “This geographic concentration reflects a nationwide trend. Death sentences, while declining in number, have become increasingly concentrated in an ever- smaller number of counties.” “In a very real sense, a given defendant’s chance of having the death penalty sought, retracted, or imposed depends upon where that defendant is prosecuted and tried.” See Jordon v. Mississippi, 138 S.Ct. 2567, 2569 (2018).

I am one of a few Gulfport criminal attorneys that are qualified to be a lead counsel on a death penalty case in state and federal court, but if you were charged with a capital murder, I would be quoting $50,000 to $100,000 to represent the individual and also point out that you are going to have to have a large sum of money set aside to pay experts. The defense of a capital murder case will be very easily in the hundreds of thousands to defend it and I always strongly advise people to consider allowing the public defender’s office to represent them in a capital murder case because some of our public defenders are qualified to handle them and they know the heightened scrutiny that is on them and their performance as an attorney in a death penalty case and have the actual indigency funds of the county to assist them in paying for the defendant’s experts. A decision to hire an attorney with a capital murder charge is something that I am more than willing to discuss with someone, but will point out the pros and cons of that decision. I will give names and contact information of some of the few other qualified death penalty attorneys so you can be free to talk to them.

Mississippi has under their homicide statutes first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and numerous other criminal prosecutions in relation to non-natural deaths. I have tried numerous homicide cases in federal and state courts and have had some success in the outcomes. I have appealed numerous federal cases and state court homicide cases and have been successful and got relief from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Mississippi Supreme Court and Court of Appeals on cases I handled at the trial level. There are many common law and statutory principles involving most homicide cases concerning such matters as self-defense, the castle doctrine, a criminal defendant is entitled to stand his ground, Weathersby rule, transferred intent, and when to and when not to raise a competency issue and potentially plead an insanity defense or lack of mental competence to stand trial. I have gotten homicide charges dropped for lack of a criminal defendant’s mental capacity. A homicide case is not a case you would want to have a novice attorney because there are many common law and statutory principles that apply to homicide cases that do not apply to other criminal charges and, if the attorney you choose is not experienced in dealing with homicide cases in general, it could greatly affect the outcome of your charge.

Drug Crimes

Drug crimes vary greatly from federal court to state court. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines has a quantity of drugs table (USSG § 2D1.1), but an experienced federal criminal defense attorney knows how to address the drug quantities, the relevant conduct, the various other aggravating factors in connection with any federal sentence and knows how to properly present the mitigating factors for any criminal defendant, not only those within the guidelines but those which are allowed under federal law, also when to argue for a downward departure or variance and know how to properly argue them.

State Court: the drug quantity (or amount of drugs) is a factor in state court, but in state court, a good criminal defense attorney knows that the Mississippi Constitution § 23 may give a defendant higher protections than the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Search and seizure issues are always very important on any drug case, including the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution in federal court and the Mississippi Constitution § 23 which gives some higher rights to a landowner or property owner than does the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. The state laws of Mississippi are more protective to the landowners than the federal laws. Good criminal defense attorneys in Gulfport know how to argue this for defendants.

Sex Crimes

I have tried numerous sex crimes in Gulfport through the years and have had some not guilty verdicts in relation to sex charges. I have been a guest speaker on cross examination of child witnesses (victims) and overall defense of sex crimes. Sex crimes are hard to prosecute and hard to defend. During the voir dire process of a sex crime, it is very hard to read which jurors would be favorable and unfavorable, but it is not only for the defense, it is also for the prosecution. But again, good experienced criminal defense attorneys can see tendencies with some jurors over others in relation to sex crimes and know how to properly voir dire your jury to attempt to get you the fairest juror possible for your particular case. Unfortunately, in Mississippi, any sentence for any sex crime is a day for day sentence and the entire sentence must be served. Our trial court judges are very harsh on sex offenders. As a result, you end up trying a lot of cases because sometimes the recommendations the district attorney’s office makes are so far out of line that you don’t have much choice. Again, a good experienced trial lawyer is imperative for a criminal defendant in state or federal court. Most sex crimes are in state court. You do have child pornography cases in federal court, but the bulk of sex crimes are all in state court and our district attorney’s office prides themselves in having particular prosecutors that are specially educated and trained in prosecuting sex crimes, which includes a large amount of computer crimes. Because of the severity of the sentence, I would never recommend someone to get an inexperienced attorney to represent them in a sex crime in state or federal court.

Property Crimes

Property crimes are a large group of grand larceny, petit larceny, receiving stolen property, burglaries of cars and sheds fall into this category. Burglary of a dwelling is considered a crime of violence. Most property crimes can be resolved in state or federal court with no incarceration and, if the defendant has substantial criminal history, the matter can be resolved with not as harsh a result as a violent crime or sex crime.

Violent Crimes

Violent crimes include aggravated assault, bank robbery, robbery, kidnapping, arson, human trafficking, manslaughter, (see list of crimes in Mississippi Code Annotated, § 97-3-2 Code of 1972) carjacking. In state court, it does affect the individual’s parole eligibility if he is convicted of a crime of violence, you must serve 50% of a sentence before being eligible for parole where other crimes, you will be eligible for parole after serving 1/4th of the sentence, unless sentenced as a habitual offender or for a sex crime.


Expungement is a process that wipes a criminal arrest and prosecution from your criminal history. Federal court has no expungement laws, but in rare, rare, rare cases it may be obtained. State court has a wide variety of expungement possibilities, some crimes can be expunged and some cannot. The manner in which a case is disposed affects the ability to obtain an expungement. I can guide you in the correct direction to obtain an expungement when your case is completed, and assist you in obtaining same.

Most criminal cases end up with a plea, even though you never let prosecutors know you are not willing to try the case, but the plea bargaining process involves the district attorney or U.S. attorney’s office (prosecutors) meeting with your attorney and discussing the cases and then the prosecutor will make recommendations, generally directly related and based off the strength of their case, if they have any trouble or problems with the facts or the law as it applies to their case, and their confidence in obtaining a conviction if they have to go to trial. Prosecutors do not care about mitigation. Judges do, but prosecutors do not really care.

The recommendation you will receive from the prosecutor is directly related to the respect that the district attorney’s office or U.S. attorney’s office has in your criminal defense attorney and knowing that your attorney is not afraid to go to trial with them and is willing to point out the numerous factual or legal problems they have with their prosecution.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can review a case file and point out the legal or factual problems or issues that any prosecution has far better than an inexperienced criminal defense attorney. Prosecutors are not scared of inexperienced criminal defense attorneys who are scared to go to trial against them. I have carried over 100 criminal cases to verdicts, including numerous homicides, drug cases, sex crimes, white collar crimes, and every other property crime or crimes of violence that are within the criminal justice system in federal and state court. Prosecutors in our district know I am not scared to try a case with them. Also, I work diligently prior to trial to point out the shortcomings the prosecutor’s case has so I can obtain the most lenient recommendations and case dispositions from the prosecution. I have 35 years of experience as a Gulfport criminal lawyer, and I tell young attorneys all of the time that you are going to make mistakes and the big difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer, the good lawyer doesn’t make the same mistake twice and a bad lawyer keeps making the same mistake over and over again. I assure you that I have used my experience to my clients’ benefit and I will assure the best result will always happen in your case.

Choosing a criminal defense attorney is a very important decision. In Federal or State court, a criminal charge will generally fall in one of the following categories:

  • Felony
  • Misdemeanor
Federal Court

Misdemeanor cases filed in Federal Court are generally handled in magistrate court and they actually follow the state laws for sentencing and fines. Most federal misdemeanors do not result in jail time, but there are a few where you could end up in jail. An experienced, trained attorney in the Gulfport area can guide you through this process and attempt to make sure you obtain the best result and potential sentence and fine or trial, if necessary.

Federal felony cases are greatly controlled by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines result in sentences of months, not years, and it is imperative that whatever lawyer you choose has a good grasp and working experience of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and how the overall criminal process works in Federal Court. In Federal Court, there are benefits and reduction of sentences for cooperation of a criminal defendant. It is always something that a good criminal defense attorney in federal court will discuss with his client and assist in making the decision over whether the defendant should give any type of “proffered statement” to the federal agents or U.S. attorneys themselves. There are many cases where, after consultation with an experienced attorney, he knows that your cooperation will get you nothing and it is not in your best advantage to cooperate with the federal authorities. These are important decisions that have to be made with the client with full consultation advice of experienced federal trial attorney. I have personally handled over ten federal cases (three homicides and numerous drug charges and white-collar crimes) all the way to verdicts in jury trials and handled hundreds of pleas, and am very experienced in federal court. I have further appealed and orally argued numerous cases to the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. I am experienced in working with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and have a very good grasp and understanding of them. Federal cases move a lot faster and, as a general rule, any attorney will be quoting a higher fee because of the time constraints and the attorney’s knowledge of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines on a defendant’s ultimate sentence.

State Court

The lower level courts (misdemeanor courts) are your city courts and justice courts throughout Mississippi. The felony trial level court is circuit court throughout the various counties of Mississippi. There are many reasons why obtaining a good criminal defense attorney in state court is important. Concerning criminal felonies, our judicial district in South Mississippi has over 10% of all of the inmates incarcerated with the Mississippi Department of Correction, most come from Harrison County, Mississippi. Over 2,000 inmates from Harrison County, Mississippi are incarcerated with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The closest other county is Hinds County where the State capital is and has almost double the population. Hinds has a little over 1,000 inmates with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. One-third of all habitual offenders that are housed with the MDOC come from Harrison County, Mississippi. This is the result of zealous prosecutions, judges that sentence a little harsher, and when you go to trial, juries in South Mississippi are generally pro-prosecution. I have tried cases throughout the entire state of Mississippi and jurors in other counties are a lot more lenient to criminal defendants in trials than the jurors in South Mississippi. That is why it is so important to try to work something out on any felony case because going to trial is not always in a defendant’s best interest.

Experience of your criminal defense attorney is crucially important because they know how to evaluate a case properly and the district attorney’s office will look a little bit harder in trying to work a case out with an attorney that they know will try the case and has vast experience as opposed to one that does not. Prosecutors’ recommendations are directly related to the strength of their case and whether they have any problems with the facts or the law. Good criminal defense attorneys point out their problems. Good criminal defense attorneys try to work their cases out but they know also that they may have to try the case and, if they do, they will be prepared and most will do you a good job. You will see from my bio that I am not only experienced at doing criminal trials, I am asked to come as a guest speaker to discuss all facets of the criminal trial process from pre-trial motions, voir dire, opening and closing statements, reserving issues for appeal, and am not only experienced, I have a good knowledge of what I am doing in relation to a criminal trial.

If you have been charged with a crime in Gulfport, it is crucial to contact an experienced criminal lawyer. Call Jim Davis today for your free consultation at (228) 864-1588, or fill out or online form.

Client Reviews
Jim, I know by your actions on my behalf I have been given a new lease on an old life. Words shall never express the depth of respect, nor the amount of gratitude I am overcome by at this moment. J.B.
Thank you, Jim, for being one-of-a-kind!The only experience I have had with lawyers has not been good. Thanks to you, Jim, I found a lawyer who really cares, listens, and works for the client. Bless you. M.V.R.
Mr. Davis, You are a great lawyer because you not only do the best you can for your clients, you also care about us. Once again, thank you, Mr. Davis, for everything!!! C.S.
Mr. Davis, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for your help in my son's case. I know that things could have turned out much much worse for him...On behalf of myself and Mr. Bignoli I say Thank you for all you have done. Joan and John B.
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