pleading the fifth

We have all seen it in movies. A mob boss is in court facing a criminal charge. The prosecuting attorney asks a witness or the defendant a question about the alleged crime. The only answer they receive in response is “I plead the Fifth.” The question is left unanswered. The accused has a smirk on their face as though they have just gotten one over on the prosecution. Meanwhile, the prosecuting attorney has a look of frustration on their face as their case has hit a snag. If you are facing a criminal charge and think of one of these movie scenes, you might find yourself wondering, What is pleading the Fifth? When can you not plead the Fifth? Or even, Is it wise to plead the Fifth? Despite its use as a trope in courtroom dramas, most people do not understand how pleading the Fifth works in criminal proceedings. We prepared this piece to answer those questions and shed some light on how pleading the Fifth works in practice. What Is Pleading the Fifth? “Pleading the Fifth” refers to a situation wherein someone invokes The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in legal proceedings. We could spend a great deal of time unpacking the text of the Fifth Amendment into its various components, but for our purposes, there is one key element. The Fifth Amendment protects those accused or suspected of committing criminal offenses from being “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” In other words, the Fifth Amendment gives accused persons “the right to remain silent.” Defendants plead the Fifth to avoid incriminating themselves in their own trials. Additionally, witnesses testifying in someone else’s criminal trial may plead the Fifth. People can also plead the Fifth in civil court, but our focus here is criminal law.  When Can You Not Plead the Fifth? Knowing the answer to the question, When can you not plead the Fifth? is crucial if you are considering invoking the amendment. There are two classes of people who can plead the Fifth in a criminal trial. First, a witness who does not want to incriminate themselves by answering a specific question can plead the Fifth. For example, a witness might plead the Fifth if a prosecutor asks them about a drug deal that they were a part of. In answering the question, the witness might incriminate themselves for drug possession or distribution, so they avoid answering it entirely. A person who receives immunity or a pardon for a given criminal offense cannot invoke the right to remain silent concerning that offense. Defendants can also invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying against themselves in a criminal trial. Unlike witnesses, defendants cannot plead the Fifth to avoid answering specific questions. If a defendant pleads the Fifth, they cannot testify in their trial at all. What Happens When You Plead the Fifth? Pleading the Fifth might seem like a get-out-of-jail-free card that you can use in court, but there are consequences of pleading the Fifth. Pleading the Fifth is much more complicated than just saying the words “I plead the Fifth” and having the question go away. You might have already thought of one issue with pleading the Fifth. You might think, If you plead the Fifth, do you not inadvertently criminalize yourself in doing so? Or, Does pleading the Fifth not signal that you are guilty of the crime in question, if not a separate crime? As with most questions in the legal field, the answer depends on the specific circumstances of the case. Sometimes pleading the Fifth is the most prudent legal move you can make. Other times, pleading the Fifth is unnecessary and may hurt your case. The best way to gauge the impact of pleading the Fifth is to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. With their expert advice, you can balance the potential risks of pleading the Fifth against the potential rewards. Your Silence Cannot Be Used Against You One thing that readers should take away from this piece is that remaining silent cannot be used against you in court. You may think that pleading the Fifth inadvertently indicates guilt of a crime. After all, by pleading the Fifth, you all but admit guilt with respect to a crime. While this may be a reasonable assumption, it is unconstitutional for juries, judges, or prosecutors to use your silence against you as evidence of guilt. If prosecutors could infer guilt on the basis of silence alone, it would undermine the purpose of the Fifth Amendment.  Do You Think You Might Need to Plead the Fifth? Whether you are facing a witness subpoena or a criminal charge, if you think you might need to plead the Fifth, don’t go through with it without consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Instead, get in touch with our knowledgeable team of criminal defense attorneys at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense. At our firm, we believe in giving power to the people. Our founder, Jeremy Hugus, believes that everyone deserves a fair trial. If you are considering pleading the Fifth, don’t wait until the day before your court date. Call us today and tell us how we can help!

signs of being under investigation

When you are arrested, it is obvious that the police are accusing you of committing a crime. There is no other way to look at the situation. Police only arrest someone when they suspect them of a commiting a crime.  But what happens before you are arrested? If you are not arrested while committing a crime, how do the police know that a crime was committed? Police conduct investigations of specific crimes to identify suspected perpetrators, then make an arrest when they feel they have enough evidence to prove an accused person’s guilt. With this in mind, the next logical question is, can I find out if I’m under investigation? Sometimes you can find out if you are under investigation, but not always. There are certain signs of being under investigation you can look out for. If you can identify those signs, you will learn how to know if you are under investigation by the police. How to Find Out If You Are Under Criminal Investigation If the police arrest you, it is safe to assume that you are or were under a criminal investigation. But you don’t want to wait until that happens to take action. Recognizing the signs of being under criminal investigation can help you get ahead of the situation by seeking legal counsel and preparing for the possibility of an arrest and criminal charge. The Police Contact You First, if the police contact you to talk about an open criminal case, you might be under investigation. Police contact and interview persons of interest in their investigations. Not every person they contact is a suspect, but when investigations begin, typically every person that the police talk to is a potential suspect. If not a suspect, individuals that the police contact are at least persons of interest. Thus, if the police contact and interview you, it is a sign that you might be under criminal investigation. A Federal Agency Contacts You Your local police are not the only law enforcement agency that investigates and prosecutes crimes. Other law enforcement agencies exist, particularly in the federal government. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are just a few federal agencies that investigate and prosecute federal crimes. If an agent from one of these agencies contacts you for an interview, you might be under investigation for a federal crime. Pay Attention to the Questions Asked of You If the police contact you for an interview, the types of questions they ask can signal whether you are under investigation. For example, if the police contact you for an interview and mostly ask you questions about someone else, that person is probably under investigation, and you probably are not. On the other hand, if the police ask you more pointed questions, you might be under investigation yourself. Questions concerning things like your whereabouts on a given date or your relationship with someone who was the victim of a crime can indicate that you are under investigation for a given crime. Closely following the questions that law enforcement asks you in an interview will help you figure out whether you are being investigated. Grand Jury Indictment Receiving a grand jury indictment leaves no question as to whether you are under investigation for a crime. In many federal criminal cases, prosecutors must secure an indictment before formally filing charges. To secure an indictment, prosecutors present all the evidence they have in a given case to a grand jury. The grand jury weighs the evidence and decides whether it is substantial or compelling enough to warrant prosecution before accepting or rejecting the indictment. Sometimes law enforcement detains suspects before a grand jury decides on an indictment, but not always. Thus, if you are indicted, an arrest may come before or after the grand jury hearing. An indictment is a formal accusation of a criminal offense, so if you receive indictment papers, you are or were under criminal investigation.  If You Think You are Under Criminal Investigation The best way to find out if you are under investigation is with the help of a criminal defense attorney. Criminal defense attorneys have experience with prior police investigations, so they know how to identify things that indicate the existence of a criminal investigation. If you think you are under investigation for a crime, call Cowboy Country Criminal Defense today. At Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, we have helped countless clients identify ongoing police investigations. By identifying investigations before police file charges, we help our clients get ahead of criminal charges and prepare robust defenses to protect their freedom. Our mission is to protect your rights and put power back in your hands, so call us today for a consultation!

revenge porn wyoming

On April 5, 2021, Wyoming governor Mark Gordon signed HB 85 into law. The purpose of the bill, which is effective as of July 1, 2021, is to alter Wyoming porn laws to account for the recent rise of a phenomenon called revenge porn.  The two houses of the legislature, which both overwhelmingly approved the bill, sought to update revenge porn laws in Wyoming that they felt did not effectively protect revenge porn victims. Revenge porn is a relatively recent phenomenon. It’s rise follows the rise and ubiquity of social media and smartphones. If you’re wondering, Is revenge porn illegal? You may be surprised to learn that before HB 48’s passage, Wyoming’s porn laws were silent on the issue. In fact, in 2019, Wyoming was one of only four states without a law on it. Anyone who faces a revenge porn conviction should understand the new set of rules. Aside from understanding the rules and consequences, you should immediately retain an experienced criminal defense attorney if someone accuses you of revenge porn. What Is Revenge Porn? To understand the law, it is important to understand the answer to the question, What is revenge porn? Revenge porn differs from legal pornography in a few ways. The new Wyoming revenge porn law states that the crime of revenge porn occurs when someone disseminates an image of another person with the intent to humiliate, harm, harass, threaten, or coerce them. The image must meet four additional qualifications for courts to consider it revenge porn: The person in the image is 18 years or older;The person in the image does not consent to the image’s dissemination;The person in the image is engaged in a sexual act or in a state of nudity; andThe person in the image can be identified from information attached to the image or from the image itself. If your actions meet all these qualifications, you risk conviction for the crime of revenge porn in Wyoming. Whether or not you believe the conditions are met, if someone files a criminal complaint that accuses you of revenge porn, it is essential that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. What Are the Consequences for a Revenge Porn Conviction in Wyoming? HB 48 ensures that revenge porn is taken seriously by Wyoming authorities. The potential consequences reflect the crime’s severity in the eyes of the law. HB 48 classifies revenge porn as a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, up to one year of imprisonment, or both. A previous version of the bill made second offenses a felony punishable by up to three years imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, but this language did not make it into the final version of the text. While the felony language is no longer part of the bill, the consequences for a conviction are still severe. Why It Is Critical to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible The foundation of our country’s criminal law system is that all people are innocent until proven guilty. To help ensure that we follow this principle, our legal system relies on the idea that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial. However, with that said, trials aren’t always fair. Miscarriages of justice happen every day. There are several things that can make a trial unfair. Illegal investigation tactics, inadequate public defense, and coercion are just a few.   As someone facing a criminal charge, how do you ensure you are given a fair trial? The best way to ensure that your trial is as fair as possible is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Our attorneys at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense know how to counter unfair tactics both in and out of the courtroom. Contact Cowboy Country Criminal Defense Today Has someone accused you of revenge porn in Wyoming? If so, don’t wait to protect your freedom. Contact us at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense today.  Wyoming native Jeremy Hugus started Cowboy Country Criminal Defense for one reason: to make life better for real people. That’s our firm’s primary goal. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will do everything in their power to protect your rights and preserve your freedom. We believe in bringing power to the people and that you are more than the crimes you are accused of. Let us prove your innocence and ensure that you get a fair trial. Don’t wait. Contact us today to discuss your case!


Cowboy Country Criminal Defense Attorney Addresses the Difference Between Being Detained vs. Arrested If a law enforcement officer pulled you over in Wyoming, searched your car, and placed you under arrest, you may wonder if the officer violated your rights. Police officers have the authority to investigate crimes. However, they do not possess the power to detain you indefinitely without evidence. You have the constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Cowboy Country Criminal Defense attorney Jeremy Hugus will fight hard to protect your rights. As a highly experienced and successful criminal defense lawyer, Jeremy will review your case to see if the police violated your constitutional rights and work to develop the best defense strategy possible to help you win your case. Detained vs. Arrested in Wyoming Explained Wyoming law recognizes three types of police encounters: Voluntary or consensual encounter;Investigatory detention (also called a “Terry stop”); andFormal arrest based on probable cause or arrest with a warrant. A voluntary encounter means that the person was objectively free to leave. For example, if you walk up to a police officer to ask a question, the encounter is voluntary. Similarly, if the police walk up to you and ask you a question, you are free to leave unless they have evidence that justifies their intrusion into your privacy. What Does It Mean to Be Detained? Police can detain a person to investigate a violation of the law. The most common example is getting pulled over for a traffic violation. In that situation, the officer can detain you to investigate the officer’s belief that a moving violation occurred.  A police officer needs evidence to detain a person. The evidence, under both the U.S. and Wyoming constitutions, is reasonable suspicion. If a police officer saw you run a stop sign, the officer has reasonable suspicion to stop you to give you a ticket for that infraction. The police officer cannot detain you any longer than reasonably necessary to complete the investigation into the reason why the officer stopped you. The officer must let you be on your way once the officer finishes the traffic stop.  Good police officers understand that people often conceal contraband inside of a car. Therefore, the officer will ask questions of the driver to see if the story makes sense. You never have to answer those questions. Despite that right, many people decide to talk with the police.  The officer might ask for consent to search the car. The officer needs no reason at all to ask you if you consent to a car search. You have the right to say “no.”  Constitutional law allows police officers to detain a person longer if the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime is underway, was committed, or is about to be committed. The officer cannot rely on just a hunch. Instead, the officer must have evidence to justify inquiring further. That could lead to a search of your car or your person.  When Are You Arrested vs. Detained in Wyoming? The difference between being detained vs. arrested is one of degree. A police officer must have either an arrest warrant or possess probable cause that you committed a crime to place you under formal arrest. A formal arrest usually means the police put handcuffs on you, bring you back for booking and fingerprinting, read your Miranda rights, and file charges against you. However,  a stop based on reasonable suspicion becomes an arrest without probable cause when the police detain you without enough evidence to justify their actions.  The police may have arrested you unlawfully if they: Detained you longer than necessary to complete their initial investigation;Used more force than required to protect themselves;Called for a large number of officers to assist with their investigation;Patted you down for weapons; Put you in handcuffs; orPut you in the patrol car. The court will look at the “totality of the circumstances” to see if the police violated your rights by arresting you without probable cause. The judge may suppress all evidence seized against you, including any statements you made, if the police arrested you without probable cause. What Should You Do If You Feel Police Should Have Detained You vs. Arrested You in Wyoming? Cowboy Country Criminal Defense lawyer Jeremy Hugus relies on his extensive courtroom experience when coming up with a winning defense strategy. With Jeremy by your side, you can rest assured knowing that he will fight aggressively to protect your rights if you were wrongly detained vs. arrested in Wyoming. Call Jeremy and his team with Cowboy Country Criminal Defense right away at 307-333-7884 to get your best defense.

attorney bond hearing

If you are attending a bond hearing, it is essential that you have an experienced Wyoming criminal defense lawyer on your side.  What is a bond hearing? you may ask. This is the proceeding to decide whether you will be able to remain free while your criminal case is pending. The Wyoming Constitution guarantees the right to bail in all but capital cases. Therefore, people frequently assume they will quickly go free while they await charges. However, this is a mistake. You need to work to make sure the court sets the lowest possible bond. Don’t underestimate the importance of what happens at a bond hearing. Be prepared by hiring a strong Wyoming criminal defense firm. WHAT IS A BOND HEARING?  In most cases, a bond hearing is a process for the court to address what happens to a person while awaiting trial. So let’s look at what happens at a bond hearing.  If you are the accused, you will have an opportunity to convince the court that you are not a danger to society and that the court can trust you to return to court for your hearing. It is not as dramatic as the trials you see on TV. However, it is equally important in many ways as you are hoping that a judge will set a reasonable bail so that you can leave freely as you prepare for trial.  It is true that Article 1, Section 14 of the Wyoming Constitution requires that courts not apply excessive bail. But the judge determines what that means based on your case and how you present yourself at the hearing. The judge may allow you to make a statement and present witnesses.  Why would you need witnesses at a bond hearing? Because it helps to have another vouch for you. The hearing is an opportunity for others to show that you have ties in the community and a job you need to attend to, for instance.  Mainly you need to prove to the judge that if they allow you out on bond, you will not run off and are worthy of the lowest bond possible. It is the job of a strategic, pragmatic, and focused criminal defense lawyer to help you with this process.  WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE A WY ATTORNEY FOR A BOND HEARING You likely would not dare attend any other criminal hearing without a defense attorney. After all, criminal proceedings are serious business. You are dealing with judges, lawyers, court staff, and more. By that same line of thought, a bond hearing is also a court proceeding.  Even if you are feeling confident that you can handle it on your own, you should think twice about doing so. It takes proper legal training to understand the process of:  Presenting information to a court, Questioning witnesses, Knowing how to combat prosecutors, and Handling tough questions from judges. A Wyoming criminal defense lawyer with a background in representing clients in these matters is your best resource in dealing with bond hearings in Wyoming. Without legal training, it is very difficult for an accused person to handle all that goes on in a bond hearing. Even lawyers in other legal specialties contact an experienced defense lawyer to come to represent them or their clients in bond hearings. COWBOY COUNTRY CRIMINAL DEFENSE: PROTECTING YOUR RIGHTS, EXPLAINING YOUR OPTIONS Cowboy Country Criminal Defense is owned by Attorney Jeremy Hugus. We represent people in all types of criminal cases in Casper and throughout Wyoming. Contact our firm for any criminal defense needs. We can protect your future and help you take back the reins.

violate my probation

If you have violated probation, the time to get help is right now.  Understanding probation, whether or not accusations of breaking probation are valid, and how to defend a client accused of a violation is the job of a criminal defense law firm. Whether you face a hearing for violating probation or fear you may soon face one, you need to prepare yourself.  WHAT IS PROBATION? Probation is a sentence through which an offender remains under court supervision as part of their punishment. It is intended to correct the offender’s behavior through control in the community, as it is a sentence that generally is in place of going to jail or prison. But it comes with a catch: Violating probation can lead to severe consequences. WHAT IS A PROBATION VIOLATION? If you are on probation, you likely have terms or conditions associated with that sentence. These commonly include: Meeting with a probation officer;Complying with drug tests;Holding a job or attending school/training;Participating in counseling, drug treatment, or other services; andCompleting community service. There may also be rules related to when you may leave your home, with whom you may associate, and where/when you can travel. The judicial system considers failing to follow any of the conditions of probation a probation violation. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU VIOLATE PROBATION? As probation is a form of punishment, as defined and explained in Wyoming law, and the court takes adhering to the terms seriously. Therefore, there are probation violation consequences.  Some of these could be: Stricter rules related to existing probation terms (i.e., more counseling, additional community service);New additional terms of probation;Fines; andRevoking probation and ordering the person to serve time behind bars. Our courts and correctional systems consider probation somewhat of a privilege, only for those offenders they believe can serve their sentence while living in the community. If you have violated probation, your skilled attorney may hold the key to convincing the court that it need not give you additional/different consequences.  HOW CAN A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY HELP? First of all, your attorney is on your side. They will not judge you, either for the initial crime the court convicted you of or for the alleged probation violation. A good lawyer knows that an action or mistake does not define a person. As you work with your attorney, they will map out a plan for your defense. In cases of violation of probation, some defenses include: Arguing that the probation officer presented inaccurate information and that you did not violate probation;Presenting exceptional circumstances that led to the violation (i.e., you missed curfew due to an emergency);Explaining that you misunderstood the terms of probation (i.e., you did not realize you could not travel out of state for just a day trip); andAccepting responsibility, acknowledging the violation, and seeking mercy. To start mounting your best defense, contact a criminal defense attorney. They will discuss your options and then go to work for you. Ultimately, their goal will be to lessen any consequences you may face for breaking probation. COWBOY COUNTRY CRIMINAL DEFENSE: A LAW FIRM FOR THE PEOPLE Wyoming citizens know Jeremy Hugus, owner of Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, as the one to seek when they need help. Jeremy is a skilled trial attorney with a down-to-earth demeanor and a passion for defending those facing criminal charges. Your best shot at freedom lies with Cowboy Country Criminal Defense. Call 307-333-7884 or contact us online now.

punishments for white collar crime

Consult a Sophisticated and Accomplished Wyoming Criminal Defense Lawyer for Advice If You Have Concerns About Punishments for White-Collar Crime White-collar crime is under the microscope more now than ever before. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agents work together closely to investigate and prosecute white-collar crimes. Incredibly, the United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming estimated that prosecutors dedicated 8% of their workload to investigating and prosecuting white-collar criminals. The figure does not account for all the white-collar criminal cases pursued by Wyoming state prosecutors. Moreover, the general public takes a harsh stance on white-collar crime and often wants people convicted of white-collar crime to receive severe punishments.  You are undoubtedly in a tough spot if you are under indictment or were charged with white-collar crimes. You have options, but you must understand the white-collar crime punishment severity you face before deciding which course of action you should take. Having a tough, aggressive, and knowledgeable Wyoming white-collar criminal defense lawyer by your side could make the difference for you and your future. What Is White-Collar Crime? White-collar crime is a generic term used to describe a broad range of criminal offenses. White-collar crime, by definition, is non-violent. Moreover, financial gains often motivate people who allegedly commit white-collar crimes. Examples of white-collar crime include: Insurance fraud,Tax fraud,Tax evasion,Credit card fraud,Theft,Internet fraud,Money laundering,Bankruptcy fraud,Embezzlement,Computer fraud,Internet crimes,Bribery,Ponzi schemes,Healthcare fraud, Mortgage fraud, andInvestment fraud. Other crimes may fall under this broad range of offenses described as white-collar by the United States Attorneys Office for the District of Wyoming. Both local and federal authorities can investigate and prosecute white-collar crimes. Motives for Committing White-Collar Crime Typically, the white-collar criminal is a business person who has no record but has some sophisticated knowledge of their business. Their in-depth understanding of the inner workings of their industry helps them clandestinely conceal their fraud. People commit white-collar crimes because they see an opportunity to steal money and not get caught. Commonly, people begin stealing from their employers, organizations, or individuals because of greed, jealousy, or avarice. Some might have financial problems as a result of gambling or substance abuse. Whatever the motive, white-collar crime can have a disastrous effect on a person’s business.  White-Collar Crime Jail Sentences Under Wyoming state law, theft, which included embezzlement, is punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison for a felony. Prosecutors can pursue felony charges if the stolen property has a value exceeding $1,000. Otherwise, the crime is a misdemeanor punishable by no more than six months in jail and a fine of no more than $750.  The potential sentences vary depending on the type of white-collar crime. Generally, the maximum penalty for a white-collar felony in Wyoming is 10 years, but exceptions could apply to your case. Additionally, judges can stack prison sentences and order that you serve them “from and after.”  How Do Wyoming Judges Determine White-Collar Crime Severity? At one time, people convicted of white-collar crimes received little to no punishment. That is no longer the case. Many people convicted of white-collar crime, including celebrities and well-known people, have spent time behind bars for convictions classified as white-collar crimes. Not only did they end up in jail, but they had to pay enormous fines and participate in post-release supervision services.  Judges must consider several factors when determining an appropriate sentence for a convicted offender. Most people who face white-collar crime allegations have no prior criminal history.  Sentencing judges must consider the facts alleged by the prosecution. More egregious cases will convince judges to impose the harshest sentences. These sentences could include maximum prison time, probation, and a restitution order. A sentencing judge may exercise leniency if the accused expresses remorse and offers to repay the stolen money. However, most of the money is typically gone by the time law enforcement officers complete their investigation. Typically, people convicted of white-collar crimes cannot pay full restitution because they stole more than they could ever repay. Federal and state prosecutors may seek to have the accused forfeit any proceeds of white-collar crime. Asset forfeiture disgorges the ill-gotten gains from the accused. Volunteering to forfeit assets acquired by fraudulent means could convince a sentencing judge to impose a lighter sentence. Collateral Punishments for White-Collar Crime Anyone convicted of a white-collar crime might have difficulty regaining employment. Employers will find it difficult to trust someone convicted of fraud. Additionally, a professional licensee such as a lawyer, doctor, pharmacist, or broker will assuredly face professional discipline.  The social stigma associated with a white-collar criminal conviction should not be underestimated. Losing the ability to work in your professional industry can shatter your stature in the community.  Additionally, any person who is not a citizen of the United States and receives a conviction for a white-collar crime faces denial of naturalization rights, potential deportation, and other immigration consequences. Avoid Punishments for White-Collar Crime with a Skilled White-Collar Criminal Defense Lawyer  If you are the subject of a police investigation or face white-collar criminal charges, you must act immediately. Engaging a highly skilled and top-rated Wyoming criminal defense lawyer to represent you could help you avoid any white-collar crime jail sentence. Call attorney Jeremy Hugus and his team with Cowboy Country Criminal Defense today at 307-333-7884 to learn more about your potential defenses and how to avoid punishments for white-collar crime. 


Seek Guidance from a Qualified Natrona County Criminal Defense Attorney Your first instinct might be to panic if you find out that you have a warrant for your arrest. You might be confused as to what to do next. Running and hiding or even ignoring the warrant might seem like the best thing to do.  These feelings are perfectly natural and in line with our fight or flight response.  However, ignoring a legal problem is never a good option. Meanwhile, running and hiding could only make matters worse for you and your family. People around you might offer advice. Although family and friends might have your best interest at heart, they might give you information that hurts you in the long run. Therefore, the only advice you can trust comes from a highly qualified and experienced Wyoming criminal defense lawyer.   Why Do I Have a Warrant for My Arrest? Police and courts in Wyoming issue arrest warrants for a variety of reasons. Common reasons people face arrest warrants include: The police believe you committed a crime;You defaulted on a court appearance;You violated a term of your pre-trial release;The probation department alleges you violated probation; orYou failed to satisfy a monetary order of the court, like paying a fine or restitution. No matter the reason you have a Natrona County arrest warrant, these are serious legal matters. As a result, consulting a Wyoming criminal defense lawyer with a reputation for aggressively protecting people’s rights will give you your best defense when you go to court to remove the warrant. Court-Issued Warrants in Natrona County In Natrona County, courts classify warrants as either pre-adjudication or post-adjudication. Either way, having a warrant means the police can arrest you at almost any time, no matter where they find you. Pre-adjudication warrants arise if you allegedly violated an order of pretrial release. A judge can issue a pre-adjudication warrant based on a motion filed by the prosecution called a petition to show cause.  The prosecution usually asks the court to issue an arrest warrant because they argue you violated a term of release. Orders of release commonly issued by courts, in addition to posting bond, include: Stay away/no contact orders;Remain drug/alcohol free;Take random drug tests;Attend counseling; andDo not get rearrested. Post-adjudication warrants refer to warrants issued by the court for a probation violation or failure to follow a court order. For example, you may have failed to pay an installment for a fine or not completed a DUI class. You might have a warrant for your arrest for other reasons. You might have an arrest warrant because you did not pay child support or the police claim that you committed a new crime. No matter the situation, talk to a savvy Wyoming criminal defense lawyer before it is too late. How Do You Find Out About Natrona County Warrants? You can search for your name on the Natrona County warrants list if you think you might have a warrant issued by either the 7th Judicial District or 7th Judicial Circuit Court. The Natrona County Sheriff’s Office updates the list daily. However, the sheriff’s office maintains only the Natrona County warrant list. It does not include a statewide or nationwide search.  You might learn that you have a warrant from other sources. The police might go by an old address of yours. You could also find out that the State suspended your driver license or your concealed carry permit. The court may notify you by mail as well. You might even learn about a warrant if someone, such as a new employer, runs a background check on you.  Unfortunately, many people find out they have a warrant at the wrong time. People are often caught off guard when police pull them over for speeding. Additionally, sheriff’s deputies could arrest someone at work or in a public place like a shopping mall. Officers have no discretion. They must take you into custody and bring you to court if they learn about your warrant. I Saw My Name on the Natrona County Warrants List; What Should I Do Now? You need to act quickly. The first step you need to take is to call a criminal defense lawyer dedicated to protecting people’s rights. You might not know precisely why the court issued a warrant for your arrest. A criminal defense lawyer with a wealth of experience will help you learn more about the warrant. Then you and your lawyer can come up with a plan to minimize the intrusion an arrest warrant could have on your life.  Simply waiting for police to catch you, appearing in court to remove a warrant, or surrendering to the sheriff’s office without talking with a lawyer first could backfire. Instead, securing representation right away gives you some opportunity to take control of your situation. Your lawyer might talk to the prosecution about your warrant and agree on what should happen when you go to court. The prosecution might require you to post an additional bond or add further orders of release. At the very least, your attorney can arrange for you to come to court instead of the police arresting you.  Having a plan will also give you some time to take care of personal matters such as childcare, informing your employer, and gathering funds to post a bond.  Take Control of Your Situation If You Have a Natrona County Warrant Having a warrant for your arrest is not the end of the world, but you need to act. Otherwise, you could lose control over your life in a flash. At Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, we understand that mistakes happen. We’ve helped hundreds of clients who found themselves in a situation like you do now. We vow to do our best to help you resolve your warrant quickly and efficiently so you can go on with your life. Contact Cowboy Country Criminal Defense attorney Jeremy Hugus and his team immediately online or by calling 307-333-7884 for your best shot at freedom.

Can You Appeal a Conviction After Pleading Guilty? The decision to plead guilty to criminal charges is one you should never take lightly. Changing your plea from not guilty to guilty or pleading no contest comes with significant consequences. You might want to try to challenge your conviction if you face adverse consequences you didn’t know about.  Pleading guilty to a criminal charge often means that you cannot appeal the conviction. However, with some circumstances that arise under Wyoming law, there are ways a defendent can challenge a guilty plea. A highly experienced Wyoming criminal defense lawyer can advise you about appealing a conviction after pleading guilty. What Happens During a Guilty Plea? Plea bargaining is an essential part of our adversarial criminal justice system. Not all cases go to trial. In fact, most criminal cases never reach a trial. A person charged with a crime has the absolute right to take their case to trial. Notwithstanding, taking responsibility for your actions by pleading guilty or not contesting the facts of the case by tendering a nolo contendre (no contest) plea is advantageous. A guilty plea relieves the state of the constitutional burden they have to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In turn, you get some benefits as well, like receiving a reduced jail sentence, deferred judgment, or a reduced charge. Therefore, both sides benefit. A guilty plea also gives the parties finality. The person who pleads guilty to a crime could work to put the incident behind them. Additionally, the victims of the accused’s actions could start to heal or be made whole once the case concludes.  Courts encourage plea negotiations as well. Judges understand that not all cases should go to trial. Juries have to decide some cases, but the criminal justice system would grind to a halt if every case went to trial. As a result, many prosecutors may offer defendants an incentive to plead guilty instead of taking their case to trial.  What Rights Do You Waive When Pleading Guilty? Each person has the right to a fair trial decided by a jury of their peers. Most people know that, but they do not fully understand what it means. At a trial, the accused has the right to: Receive all the evidence the state will introduce at trial before the trial begins;Be represented by competent counsel;Confront and cross-examine witnesses;Present evidence;Call witnesses and compel them to testify; andWaive their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and testify on their own behalf. Under Wyoming law, a judge must ask you questions about your willingness to waive your due process rights to a fair trial. The judge must ensure you understand these rights and that you wish to waive them. What Are the Requirements of a Guilty Plea in Wyoming? Rule 11 of the Wyoming Rules of Criminal Procedure describes how you can plead guilty. The rule requires your judge to ask you a series of questions before accepting a plea. The judge must be sure that you knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived your rights. The judge will ask questions to ensure that you are not under the influence of drugs, including prescription drugs and alcohol, and that you do not have a mental illness that prevents you from understanding the process. The judge must also take care to ask if you received any threats or promises to get you to plead guilty. The court will make sure that you understand the charges against you and the maximum penalties you face. Additionally, the judge will give you an immigration warning. The judge will ask if you and the prosecution agreed on a sentence. Additionally, the judge will make sure that the plea is accurate. The prosecutor will read a statement of facts into the record, and the judge will ask you if the facts are correct. The judge will not accept a plea if you deny the facts are true or want to offer a different version of what you say happened.  Why Is Appealing a Conviction After Pleading Guilty So Hard to Do? Pleading guilty to a case means that the defendant waives the right to contest the facts of the case. That means the defendant accepts the prosecutor’s version of events. You give up the right to tell your side of the story. In other words, once the judge accepts your guilty plea and enters judgment against you, you lose the right to maintain your innocence. How Can You Appeal a Conviction? Depending on your circumstances, you may have different options for challenging your conviction following a guilty plea. Conditional Guilty Plea Rule 11 of the Wyoming Rules of Criminal Procedure allows you to contest adverse rulings a judge made in the case, such as losing a motion to suppress, if you agree to plead guilty conditionally. The terms of the conditional plea must appear in writing and be given to the court. Despite your guilty plea, the condition allows you to appeal any adverse decisions. If you win the appeal, the court will allow you to withdraw your guilty plea. Motion to Withdraw In limited circumstances, you may file a motion and ask the court to let you withdraw your guilty plea. If you move to withdraw your plea before the court imposes your sentence, then the court may allow withdrawal for “any fair and just reason.” If you wait until after the court imposes the sentence, the court may permit withdrawal only to “correct manifest injustice.”  Some circumstances that might justify plea withdrawal include: Receiving incorrect legal advice from counsel;Tendering a plea when incompetent;Pleading guilty when the judge failed to grant you certain rights; andNot understanding the charges. Sometimes newly discovered evidence tending to show your innocence may suffice as grounds to withdraw your guilty plea. One example is evidence that a chemist at a drug lab tampered with thousands of samples, calling into question all the test results.  You must understand that you cannot withdraw your guilty plea simply because you have…

Is Poaching a Felony

Wyoming has strict laws that regulate hunting because wildlife is an integral part of Wyoming’s culture, heritage, and economy. Therefore, Wyoming game wardens, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors aggressively fight for harsh prison sentences, fines, and restitution. As with any criminal offense in Wyoming, a conviction for poaching could have severe consequences. A judge could sentence a convicted poacher to jail, assess fines, and order restitution. A restitution order could be extraordinarily costly, depending on the value of the animal taken. Therefore, you must seek representation from a dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled poaching defense attorney from Wyoming to protect your rights.  Poaching Laws in Wyoming Wyoming law requires that each person who hunts for trophy game, small game, or fish have the correct hunting or fishing license. Wyoming hunting laws set the hunting seasons and also limit the methods hunters use to harvest game. Violating the game and wildlife laws, especially when hunting without authority, is poaching. Under Wyoming law, each hunter must have a hunting license. Additionally, each hunter must produce proof of a hunter’s safety certificate if asked for one. Furthermore, each hunter must attach the coupon to the animal before leaving the site. Coupons alert game wardens to the kill and prove the hunter lawfully harvested the animal. Similar provisions apply to fishing as well. Punishments for Poaching Poaching is a serious criminal offense in Wyoming. As with all crimes, the punishment for poaching depends on the severity of the crime and the individual’s criminal history. According to Wyoming hunting laws, killing a gray wolf without authority, big game, or a trophy animal without a license or during a closed season is a high misdemeanor. Officials can bring one charge for every animal taken. The penalty for a high misdemeanor under Wyoming hunting laws is a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of no more than $10,000. Poaching of other animals may also be a low misdemeanor. The penalty in Wyoming for a low misdemeanor poaching conviction is a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of no more than $1,000. Certain animals receive greater protection from Wyoming’s poaching law. The following game animals receive greater protection from poaching in Wyoming: Grizzly bear,Black bear,Mountain lion, Mountain goat,Horned antelope,Bighorn sheep,Antlered moose,Antlered deer, andAntlered elk. The crime remains a misdemeanor; however, the poaching fines range between $5,000 and $10,000. The offender may receive up to one year in jail. Additionally, the sentencing judge may order the offender to pay restitution for each animal killed. Felony Poaching Poaching is a felony in Wyoming in limited circumstances. Three poaching convictions for killing any of the animals listed above within 10 years is a felony. The maximum sentence for felony poaching is two years in prison and a fine between $5,000 and $10,000. Wanton destruction of a big game animal is also a serious poaching offense. The punishment for poaching under this law is one year in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. However, the crime becomes felony poaching if the person received two convictions in the previous ten years. Help with Your Wyoming Poaching Charges Facing poaching charges without a formidable criminal defense lawyer representing you could be dangerous. A poaching conviction means that the state will suspend your license to hunt. Convictions, even for misdemeanors, have collateral consequences that no one realizes until it’s too late. Any conviction could hurt your chances of getting a job, holding a professional license, obtaining a higher education, and finding housing.  In addition to having a conviction on your record, you will have to pay restitution. The court will order payment of restitution for each animal poached. The restitution costs alone could reach well into the thousands, which you will have to pay even if you went to jail. If you face poaching charges, contact Wyoming poaching defense attorney Jeremy Hugus and his team with Cowboy Criminal Defense today at 307-333-7884 to learn how he could help you.