1997 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Holland
House Bill 698
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 97-17-39 AND 97-29-25, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE PENALTIES FOR DESECRATION OF CEMETERIES; TO REQUIRE THAT A PERSON CONVICTED OF SUCH DESECRATION TO PAY ALL COSTS OF RESTITUTION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 97-17-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-17-39. If any person, by any means whatever, shall wilfully or mischievously injure or destroy any of the burial vaults, urns, memorials, vases, foundations, bases or other similar items in a cemetery, or injure or destroy any of the work, materials, or furniture of any courthouse or jail, or other public building, or schoolhouse or church, or deface any of the walls or other parts thereof, or shall write, or make any drawings or character, or do any other act, either on or in said building or the walls thereof, or shall deface or injure the trees, fences, pavements, or soil, on the grounds belonging thereto, or an ornamental or shade tree on any public road or street leading thereto, such person, upon conviction, for such offense, shall be punished as follows:
(a) If the damage caused by the destruction or defacement of such property has a value of less than Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00), any person who is convicted of such offense shall be fined not more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or be imprisoned in the county jail for not more than one (1) year, or both and shall pay all costs of restitution.
(b) If the damage caused by the destruction or defacement of such property has a value equal to or exceeding Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00), any person who is convicted of such offense shall be fined not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) and shall be imprisoned in the State Penitentiary for up to five (5) years, and shall pay all costs of restitution.
SECTION 2. Section 97-29-25, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-29-25. Every person who shall knowingly and willfully dig up, except as otherwise provided by law, obliterate, or in any way desecrate any cemetery where human dead are interred, or cause through word, deed or action the same to happen, shall upon conviction be imprisoned for not more than one (1) year in the county jail or fined not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or both, where the damage caused by the desecration of such property has a value of less than Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00). If the damage caused by the desecration of such property has a value equal to or exceeding Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00) any person convicted under this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) and shall be imprisoned for up to five (5) years in the State Penitentiary. In addition to any penalties that the court is otherwise authorized to impose the court shall order such restitution as it deems appropriate.
In construing this section, a cemetery shall mean any plot of ground (1) on which are grave markers of stone, wood, metal or any other material recognizable as marking graves, or (2) the boundaries of which are defined by a recorded plat, a fence line or corner markers, or trees, or are defined in any other discernible manner.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.