Wyoming Self-Defense Laws
The State of Wyoming seeks to protect the public by criminalizing offenses like assault and battery.
A criminal conviction can have a drastic impact on your life and reputation.
However, if you have been accused of a crime but were acting in self-defense, you may be able to avoid a conviction.
At Cowboy Country Criminal Defense, our criminal defense lawyers have the skills and experience necessary to help you win your case.
Read on to learn more about the defense of self-defense in Wyoming and how it can help you avoid a conviction.
Assault and Battery
Two of the most common crimes where self-defense may apply are assault and battery. If you are convicted of assault or battery, you could face hefty fines. You could potentially even face imprisonment. Understanding assault and battery in more detail can help determine if you have a valid defense.
A person in Wyoming is guilty of simple assault if they unlawfully attempt to cause bodily injury to another person (WY Stat § 6-2-501(a)). For an assault conviction, a person does not even need to cause any actual injury to someone else. All that matters is that there was an attempt. A simple assault conviction in Wyoming is a misdemeanor that can result in a fine of up to $750.
A person is guilty of simple battery in Wyoming if he or she “intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person by use of physical force” (WY Stat § 6-2-501(b)). A battery conviction is also a misdemeanor and could result in a fine of up to $750. Additionally, a battery conviction in Wyoming is punishable by up to six months in prison.
Wyoming imposes even stricter penalties for aggravated assault and battery convictions. A person can be found guilty of aggravated assault and battery if they cause, or threaten to cause, bodily injury to another using a deadly weapon.
A person can also be convicted of aggravated assault and battery if they intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause bodily injury to a woman whom they know is pregnant (WY Stat § 6-2-502(a)). An aggravated assault and battery conviction in Wyoming is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
What If You Were Acting in Self-Defense?
If you attempted to, or actually did, cause bodily injury to another person, you could be convicted of assault or battery. But if you did so only to defend yourself from their actions, you may have a valid claim of self-defense. If this is the case, you may be able to avoid a conviction altogether.
The right to protect and defend yourself is a longstanding principle in the United States, and this principle applies in Wyoming, too.
Wyoming defines self-defense as a reasonable defensive force that is necessary to prevent injury or loss. Wyoming even allows self-defense that results in the death of the other party if the self-defense was necessary to prevent one’s own imminent death or serious bodily injury.
As long as the party acting in self-defense had an honest belief that a danger existed, they cannot be convicted of assault, battery, or another violent crime.
Can I Use Self-Defense to Avoid a Conviction?
If your actions constituted reasonable defensive force necessary to prevent injury to yourself, then you acted in self-defense. A person who acts in self-defense “shall not be criminally prosecuted for that use of reasonable defensive force.” WY Stat § 6-2-202(f). This means that under the law, you cannot be convicted of a crime if you were acting in self-defense.
Unfortunately, however, proving self-defense in a criminal case is not an easy task. A criminal defendant claiming self-defense has the initial burden of proving to a judge or jury that their actions were reasonable and necessary to prevent serious bodily injury. If the defendant does prove this, the burden then shifts to the State to prove that the defendant did not justifiably act in self-defense.
Very often, the decision will come down to the facts, evidence, and who the judge or jury believes. This is why it is so important to have a zealous advocate in your corner who will fight to give you your best defense and best chance at success.
Your Best Case for Self-Defense
If you have been accused of assault, battery, or another violent crime, you should contact a lawyer immediately. The team at Cowboy Country Criminal Defense can help you understand your charges. More than that, they will help you navigate the process and create a strategy for a successful defense.
Our extensive experience in criminal defense law allows us to fight for you every step of the way. If you are looking for a firm with the experience and dedication necessary to succeed, call Cowboy Country Criminal Defense today.