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By: Cowboy Country

What is the Punishment for a First-Time Felony Offender?

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A felony is the worst crime you can be convicted of in Wyoming.

Many people contact us to ask what the likely punishment will be for first-time felony charges.

This question has a complicated answer, which we will look into more closely below.

Although it is true that a first-time offender is likely to receive a lenient sentence, you may be wondering, do first-time offenders go to jail?

Reach out to a Wyoming criminal defense attorney at Cowboy Country Criminal defense today.


In some states, there are classes of felonies, which have standardized punishments. So, a Class 2 felony in some states might carry 5-10 years in prison as punishment.

A Class 3 felony might carry 10-15 years. The law then identifies the class for each crime.

Wyoming is different. We set punishment based on the offense for first-time felony offenders. So there are no “classes” of felonies. To better understand how much time in prison you are facing, you will need to closely analyze the punishment available for your specific offense.

Here are some examples for the first-time felony charges:

  • First-degree sexual assault: 5-50 years in prison
  • Possession of 3 or more ounces of marijuana: up to 5 years in prison, along with fines
  • Burglary is punished by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
  • First-degree arson is punished by up to 20 years and a fine up to $20,000

You can try to do legal research on your own, or you can meet with a criminal defense attorney to better understand what punishment you are facing.


If this is your very first criminal offense, then you probably will get a more lenient sentence from the judge than if you have a laundry list of crimes to your name. Most felony statutes suggest a range for imprisonment.

For example, first-degree sexual assault has a range of five to fifty years. If this is your first offense, you have a stronger argument for only spending five years in prison.

If you have other criminal histories, sexual assault or not, then you probably will not get the minimum.


Wyoming has a first-time offender statute found at WY Stat § 7-13-301 that can sometimes come into play if you have been convicted of a first offense felony.

The law typically applies to people accused of misdemeanors, which are less serious than felonies. But by the language of the statute, it can apply to some felonies as well.

If you qualify, you can be put on probation instead of having your conviction entered into the record.

Some felonies are excluded—murder, aggravated assault, and battery, arson in the first or second degree, or sexual assault in the first or second degree.

If you have been convicted of any of these, you do not qualify. However, if you are found guilty of a different felony, you might qualify so long as this is your first felony offense. You can’t have a prior felony.

Probation will come with certain conditions, such as:

  • Reporting to the court at least twice a year
  • Not committing other crimes while on probation
  • Obtaining the court’s permission before leaving the state
  • Paying restitution to victims
  • Following other conditions imposed by the judge

Probation will last at least one year and up to five. If at the end of the probationary period, the defendant has followed the terms of probation, the judge can dismiss the action.

If you violate the terms of your probation, then the judge has options. For example, he can change the terms of probation or he can revoke the probation altogether and impose a sentence.

It is vital that you do everything required of you and contact a Wyoming criminal defense attorney if you think you have violated a condition of probation.


The criminal justice system in Wyoming can be confusing to an outsider. Many defendants are intimidated and simply accept the first plea deal offered, whether it is a good offer or not.

If you have a criminal defense attorney in your corner, you are better positioned to fight for the best deal possible.

For first-time offenders, felony charges can be scary. You probably are worried about ending up in prison or having to pay very high fines.

At this time of need, you should meet with an experienced attorney at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense who can review the charges against you.

Contact our firm today. We offer a free consultation where we can talk about your case.