If you have been convicted of a felony in Wyoming, you may be wondering how long it will stay on your record and how it may affect your future. Having a felony on your record can have significant consequences, including limitations on employment opportunities, housing options, and even your personal relationships. Understanding the laws and regulations surrounding felony convictions in Wyoming is crucial to navigating the legal system and potentially minimizing the long-term impact on your life.
What Is a Felony?
In general, a felony is a serious crime that is punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. Examples of felonies include murder, rape, robbery, and drug trafficking. Felonies are typically classified into different degrees, with higher degrees carrying more severe penalties.
When is a Felon’s Record Sealed or Expunged?
Wyoming has specific laws and regulations regarding the expungement and sealing of criminal records. Expungement refers to the process of erasing or sealing a criminal record, while sealing refers to restricting access to the record.
Wyoming’s laws for sealing criminal records are not as lenient as those in some other states. While many states offer expungement options for a broader range of offenses, Wyoming does not provide a pathway for the complete expungement of adult felony records. However, there is still hope in the form of sealing records.
What Does ‘Sealing’ Mean?
Wyoming does allow for the sealing of certain criminal records under certain circumstances. For example, if you were convicted of a non-violent felony and have completed all the terms of your sentence, you may be eligible to have your record sealed. This means that the general public, like employers, landlords, and the general public, will not have access to your criminal record, but law enforcement agencies and certain employers may still be able to view it.
Who is Eligible for Sealing?
Eligibility for sealing a criminal record in Wyoming is relatively limited. Generally, you must have been convicted of a non-violent felony and successfully completed all the terms of your sentence, including probation, parole, and payment of all fines and restitution. Furthermore, you often have to wait a certain period, typically a few years, after completing your sentence to be eligible for sealing.
Not everyone with a non-violent felony conviction will be eligible for sealing. If you have subsequent felony convictions or certain types of misdemeanor convictions, you may be disqualified. It is crucial to consult Wyoming’s specific statutes or an experienced attorney to understand your particular eligibility status fully.
What is the Sealing Process?
To start the sealing process, you typically need to file a petition with the court that handed down your original conviction. This petition usually requires detailed documentation, such as proof of completed sentence terms and possibly character references. It may also require a court hearing where the prosecutor has the opportunity to object to the sealing of your record.
While sealing a record can provide substantial relief, it doesn’t entirely erase your criminal history. Certain employers, especially those in sensitive industries like healthcare and education, may still have access to your sealed records. Moreover, a sealed record can still be considered a prior conviction if you are convicted of a subsequent crime.
How Can an Experienced Lawyer Help?
Navigating the legal system can be complex and overwhelming, especially when dealing with the long-term consequences of a felony conviction. An experienced lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout the process. They can help you understand your rights, explore potential legal options, and advocate on your behalf.
A skilled attorney can also assist in exploring alternatives to incarceration, such as diversion programs or probation, which may help mitigate the impact of a felony conviction on your record. Additionally, they can guide you through the process of record sealing if you are eligible, ensuring that your criminal record is protected to the fullest extent possible under Wyoming law.