According to law, there are two types of homicide. Murder is an intentional homicide.
Manslaughter is less than intentional. In some cases, a homicide may be justified. In other cases, the prosecutors may seek a harsher punishment than the defendant deserves.
Cowboy Country Criminal Defense understands that each homicide case is unique. In some cases, police take shortcuts in order to avoid complex police work.
As a result, some prosecutors seek charges that do not fit the crime. If you are facing homicide charges, don’t hesitate to reach out to us immediately for help.
Wyoming’s Felony Murder Rule and First-Degree Murder
Wyoming has what is called a felony murder rule (W.S. 6-2-101(a)). This law has a very high potential for abuse. So, anyone who causes the death of another person, either by intent or by accident, while in the commission of a felony crime is guilty of felony murder.
Crimes that can trigger a felony murder rule include:
- Sexual assault,
- Or resisting arrest.
Young men have charges of felony murder when one of their cohorts was shot and killed by police. Also, felony murder gets prosecution on the same level as first-degree murder, young men can, without ever pulling a trigger, face life in prison (or the death penalty) for a death that resulted from someone else’s actions.
The sense of this rule is to make it easier to prosecute those who, in situations like rape and kidnapping, cause the death of someone who they have abducted or assaulted. In these cases, the premeditation is not for the murder but another criminal act certainly was premeditated.
First-degree murder is simply a premeditated murder. By statute, it is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
Second-Degree Murder in Wyoming
The laws regarding second-degree murder are found in W.S. 6-2-104. Wyoming law states that whoever purposely and maliciously causes the death of another person, but without premeditation, is guilty of second-degree murder. What separates second-degree murder from voluntary manslaughter is malice aforethought.
In other words, there must be some malicious intent. Second-degree murder has a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years. Those found guilty can face life in prison.
Manslaughter in Wyoming
Manslaughter does not require malice aforethought. It does, however, require recklessness or negligence. Voluntary manslaughter is a heat of passion crime. In other words, someone provokes you so badly that you, without thinking, kill them. Involuntary manslaughter requires that there be a complete lack of intent to hurt or kill.
For instance, those who take someone’s life while driving drunk can get a charge of involuntary manslaughter. The maximum penalty for manslaughter in Wyoming is 20 years (W.S. 6-2-105).
Defending Yourself Against Homicide Charges
Homicide charges, for obvious reasons, produce the stiffest penalties in the State of Wyoming. You will need the aid of a seasoned criminal defense attorney in order to get these charges dropped, dismissed, or a not-guilty verdict.