Mississippi Crime of the Week – Removal from state of personal property subject to lien

It is against the law in Mississippi to take property out of the State’s jurisdiction that you know is encumbered, or pledged, to someone else.  This law basically prevents someone from “hiding assets” from creditors, or otherwise making it difficult for a creditor to come get the collateral if they stop making payments on it.  The law prevents the moving “to any place beyond the jurisdiction of this state, any personal property which shall at the time of such removal be under written pledge, or mortgage, or deed of trust, or conditional sales contract, or lien by judgment, or any other lien in this state, with intent to defraud the pledgee, mortgagee, trustee, cestui que trust, conditional vendor, or creditor . . . .”

If the property is valued at less than $400.00, the offense is characterized as a misdemeanor, and the punishment is a fine of not more than $1000.00 and imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 12 months.  If the property is valued at $400.00 or more the offense is a felony, punishable by a fine of $500.00 to $5000.00, and imprisonment in the penitentiary not less than one nor more than three years, or both.

As with most theft and fraud offenses, the key is your intent.  The prosecutor must prove your intent to defraud the rightful owner beyond a reasonable doubt, and sometimes this can be difficult, in light of the many innocent reasons you may take property from the state.