Defending Against Theft Charges in Wyoming
Theft is a serious offense in Wyoming, and those convicted face a range of penalties. If you have been arrested for theft, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your rights. There are many defenses a person can raise to this charge, and the state always has the burden of proof. Reach out to an experienced attorney for assistance.
How Wyoming Defines Theft
Wyoming Statute § 6-3-402 defines theft as a person who knowingly takes or exercises unauthorized control over someone else’s property with the purpose of depriving them of it. There are a couple of points to make:
- To be convicted, you must have known that you were taking property that belonged to someone else. It isn’t enough to accidentally have picked up a laptop, believing it was yours, and then taken it home, since that was accidental.
- You can be convicted even if you don’t keep the property. The statute also criminalizes exerting control over property or making an unauthorized transfer.
Wyoming also criminalizes the theft of services under § 6-3-408. Theft of services consists of obtaining services without paying with the intent to defraud, when the defendant knows the services are only available for pay.
Penalties for Theft in Wyoming
As in other states, Wyoming sets penalties based on the value of the property that the person stole. The more valuable the property, the more severe the punishment. This is true for both theft of property and theft of services.
If the property or services were worth less than $1,000, then:
- The crime is punishable as a misdemeanor
- A defendant faces up to 6 months in jail
- A defendant could also face a fine up to $750
If the property or services were worth $1,000 or more, then:
- The crime is punishable as a felony
- A defendant faces up to 10 years in prison
- A defendant could also be fined up to $10,000
The value of property should be measured from the date in which you are alleged to have stolen it, not the date that you go to trial. Property can increase or decrease in value over a short amount of time, so carefully analyze the value.
Defenses to Theft
There are many ways to fight a theft charge. As mentioned above, the prosecutor must show that you exerted control over the property with the requisite mental state, in this case knowledge that you did not own the property. Sometimes, you can defend by showing that you were confused about whether you owned the property or were completely unaware that you had it in your possession or control.
Another defense is to dispute the value of the property. Although this would not lead to an acquittal, you can reduce the penalties you face. For example, if you are accused of stealing a car, then you can dispute the condition of the vehicle, which will directly reduce its value.
You can also always argue that the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence of the crime. In that case, you can seek dismissal of the charges or an acquittal if you go to trial.
Contact an Experienced Wyoming Theft Lawyer
If you have been arrested for theft, or if the police are questioning you, contact Cowboy Country Criminal Defense today. We are committed to providing top-shelf criminal defense to those accused of theft in Wyoming. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.