Under Wyoming law, a felony is defined as any criminal charge that results in a greater than a 1-year jail sentence.
Misdemeanors are technically any crime for which the penalty is 1 year or less.
Those convicted of misdemeanors are sent to county or local jail, while those convicted of felonies are sent to state prison.
In Wyoming, the maximum penalty for a penalty is death. You can also be fined a maximum of $10,000.
If you’ve been charged with a felony under Wyoming law, you have options available to you. But you will need to retain legal counsel for the purpose of defending yourself. Cowboy Criminal Defense can help you defend yourself against a variety of felonies.
What Constitutes a Felony?
While once upon a time, the term felony was reserved for serious acts of violence like rape and murder, the justice system has expanded the concept of a felony to include crimes like driving while intoxicated and drug possession or trafficking. Felony crimes in Wyoming can include (but are not limited to):
- Violent sex crimes, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, attempted rape, statutory rape, and possession of child pornography;
- Violent crimes including murder, assault, aggravated assault, animal cruelty, manslaughter, and kidnapping;
- Property crimes including burglary, larceny, arson, vandalism, and grand theft;
- White collar crimes including tax evasion, fraud, check fraud, forgery, copyright infringement, extortion, SEC violations, theft of trade secrets, and blackmail;
- Drug crimes include trafficking, intent to distribute, and sometimes simple possession;
- Administrative crimes such as perjury, obstruction of justice, or threatening an official;
- Computer crimes such as hacking, identity theft, theft of information, or intentionally damaging a computer or network;
- Weapons crimes including unlawful possession or trafficking of weapons;
- Organized crime including RICO cases.
Wyoming’s Approach to Criminal Law
Wyoming is one of both the largest states geographically and the smallest states in terms of populations. Wyomingites like things the way they like them and they don’t take kindly to outsiders disturbing their citizens. Since the population is small, Wyoming does not take the same approach that other states take in coding felonies by class. The penalties for crimes simply depend on the nature of the crime.
Wyoming Drug Crimes and Penalties
Wyoming takes a hardline approach on drug offenses. Any attempt to traffic in drugs, regardless of how much, is considered a felony under Wyoming law. In addition, possession may be considered a felony depending on what the substance is and how much of it is possessed.
Wyoming classifies drugs into five “schedules”. Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous having a very high probability of abuse and addiction. Schedule II drugs are slightly less dangerous with Schedule IV drugs considered the least dangerous of the bunch.
Wyoming drug laws can be found in Wy. Stat. Ann. § 35-10.
For more information on what drugs are classified as what schedule, please have a look here:
- Schedule I Drugs
- Schedule II Drugs
- Schedule III Drugs
What separates misdemeanor possession from felony possession? The answer is the amount of the drug you possess. It may also depend on how many times you’ve convicted of a drug charge or if the police believe you possessed the substance with the intent to sell it. The cutoffs between misdemeanor and felony charges in Wyoming are:
- For plants: 3 ounces
- For liquids: 0.3 grams
- For powders: 3 grams
- For crack: 0.5 grams
- For LSD: 0.3 grams
In addition, penalties can be heavier when the drug is found in a school zone.
Murder and Other Violent Crimes
Wyoming is one of a host of states that allow capital punishment for violent murder but there is very seldom a murder case that warrants capital punishment. Since 1976, the State of Wyoming has only executed one individual and there is currently no one on death row. Nonetheless, if you are accused of a particularly gruesome wanton act of cruelty or malice, the death penalty is on the table.
More frequently, the prosecution will leverage stiffer sentences in order to pressure those charged into accepting plea deals.
What Should I Do if I’m Arrested in Wyoming?
It’s important to understand that even if you’re not guilty of a crime it is imperative that you have a lawyer present while the police are questioning you. It is not the case that “only guilty people need lawyers”. Many individuals that are unjustly sitting in prison right now have learned that lesson the hard way.
During an interrogation, the police officers have only one job: to get a confession. Once they have the confession, it’s very difficult to get rid of it and there are other rules under which the police may infer guilt and proceed with charging a suspect.
For this reason, it is important to involve a lawyer in the process as early as possible. You do not want to answer police questions even if you are completely innocent of the crime you’re being charged with. The results may not be what you expect them to be.
Contacting a Qualified Wyoming Criminal Defense Attorney
There are a number of ways to approach a criminal case in Wyoming.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a serious crime, there is much that you likely don’t know.
Having someone who can advocate on your behalf can make a huge difference when it comes to results.
Wyoming penalties can be stiff, especially for felonies, but police must obey the law too which means that evidence must be collected according to procedure and cannot be admitted if it’s determined to be based on an illegal search.
In addition, even if you are guilty of some crime, you are likely being way overcharged by the prosecution. Before you take a plea, a good lawyer will attempt to discover what evidence the police have and the extent to which it can be used to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Cowboy Criminal Defense has helped many of our clients get their charges reduced or dropped and won trials by jury. Give us a call or contact us online and we can begin preparing your defense today.