Wyoming Domestic Violence Laws

Under Wyoming’s domestic violence laws, a person who commits a simple assault or battery against a household member is subject to stiffer penalties and a possible felony charge if he has prior conviction(s) for violent crimes against a household member on his record.

A household member of the offender includes:

  • a current or former spouse of the offender
  • an adult with whom the offender resides or previously resided
  • a parent of the offender or adult child of the offender
  • a person with whom the offender has a child, and
  • a person whom the offender is dating or previously dated.

Simple Assault and Battery

Simple assault in Wyoming is an attempt to cause bodily injury to another person using physical force. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. §6-2-501(a).)

Battery in Wyoming consists of intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another by physical force. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. §6-2-501(b).)

Strangulating a Household Member

If an offender causes or attempts to cause bodily injury to a household member by an action that impedes the victim’s blood circulation or ability to breathe, the offender can be charged with the crime of strangulation of a household member. (Wyo. Stat. Ann. §6-2-509.)

Misdemeanor or Felony?

Simple assault and battery are usually misdemeanors in Wyoming because the crimes involve only minor bodily injury like a cut, scrape, or bruise (or an attempt to cause minor injury), and because the crimes do not involve use of a deadly weapon. Injuries such as a severely broken bone, disfigurement, loss of a limb, or those requiring surgery or extended hospitalization area “serious bodily physical injuries.”

The crime of strangulation of a household member is a felony. In addition, if an offender in Wyoming commits a simple assault or battery against a household member and has had two or more prior convictions for simple assault or battery, aggravated assault or child abuse against a household member in the last ten years, the simple assault or battery constitutes a felony under Wyoming law.

If an offender commits a violent crime against a family or household member (other than strangulation) and the crime is more serious than simple assault or battery, the crime is addressed under the aggravated assault statute.For more information, see Aggravated Assault in Wyoming.

Recklessness

A reckless act is one that is committed, not necessarily with intent to harm another, but without regard for the outcome. Pushing someone out of the way in a crowd so that you can get through, without intending to injure the person, could be considered reckless.

Penalties for Simple Assault and Battery Against a Household Member

Penalties for domestic violence crimes in Wyoming depend on whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony.

Simple assault or battery against a household member – misdemeanor

If the offender has no record of prior domestic violence crimes, the penalty for simple assault or battery in Wyoming is the same as the penalty for that crime against a non-household member:

  • for simple assault – a fine up to $75
  • for simple battery – up to six months imprisonment or a fine up to $750, or both.

If the offender has one prior conviction for simple assault or battery, aggravated assault, child abuse, or reckless endangering against a household member within the last five years, the penalty is:

  • for simple assault against a household member – up to six months imprisonment or a fine up to $750 or both, and up to one year of probation, and
  • for simple battery against a household member – up to one year in prison or a fine up to $1,000, or both, and up to two years' probation.

Simple assault or battery against a household member – felony

The penalty for felony assault or battery or assault against a household member (based on more than one prior conviction for simple assault or battery, aggravated assault, child abuse or reckless endangering against a household member within the last ten years) is up to five years in prison or a fine up to $2,000, or both.

Strangulation of a household member

A person convicted of the felony crime of strangulation of a household member can be sentenced to up to five years imprisonment.

Restitution

A person convicted of assault or battery in Wyoming must pay restitution to the victim, which involves reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling or repair or replacement of damaged property. The sentencing court can waive this requirement only if the court finds that the offender is and will be unable to pay because of lack of resources.

Deferred Sentence, Suspended Sentence and Probation

Wyoming law provides certain alternatives to a jail sentence for a person charged with or convicted of crimes against a household member.

Deferred sentence

If a defendant charged with simple assault or battery or with strangulation of a household member has no prior felony convictions and no prior domestic violence convictions, the court can defer sentencing before or after the defendant has gone to trial or pled guilty and place the defendant on probation for up to five years.

When a court defers a sentence, sentencing is postponed for a period of time on the condition that the defendant successfully complies with the conditions of probation, such as no new arrests or criminal offenses during the conditional period, completing psychological treatment, doing volunteer work in the community, maintaining employment, and not leaving the state of Wyoming.

If the defendant satisfies all the court’s requirements, the court will discharge the defendant and dismiss the case. The arrest and deferred sentence will become part of the defendant’s criminal record but there will be no conviction on his record. If the defendant fails to satisfy the court’s requirements, the court will order that the case proceed to trial or, if the defendant pled guilty, enter a conviction and impose a sentence.

A deferred sentence is available in Wyoming only once per defendant.

Suspended sentence

If the court suspends a sentence, the court imposes a jail sentence after the defendant is convicted or pleads guilty to simple assault or battery against or strangulation of a household member, but allows the defendant to serve all or a portion of the time on probation rather than in jail. For instance, the court might impose 30 days imprisonment and the balance of a six month or one year sentence on probation. Probation can include the conditions listed above. The defendant must successfully complete probation and any other conditions the court imposes or he will be required to complete the sentence in jail or prison.

The Value of Good Representation

A conviction for domestic assault or battery becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A conviction for a domestic violence crime – even a misdemeanor – can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment. A convicted felon loses the right to vote and carry firearms and can lose certain professional licenses.

An experienced attorney can determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, or represent you at trial.

Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.

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