Wyoming Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences

In Wyoming, a misdemeanor conviction can mean six months or twelve months of jail time. Learn the various penalties and sentencing options for these offenses.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated March 25, 2024

Like many states, Wyoming distinguishes felonies from misdemeanors based on the amount of time a person could potentially spend behind bars. If a sentence allows incarceration for more than a year and up to life, the crime is a felony. Sentences of a year or less fall under the category of misdemeanors.

This article will discuss the penalty, sentencing, and expungement options for Wyoming misdemeanors.

Classifications and Penalties for Misdemeanors in Wyoming

Wyoming's misdemeanors generally fall under two classifications. Sometimes referred to as "high misdemeanors," these offenses carry up to a year in jail and fines between $1,000 and $5,000. Other misdemeanors, sometimes referenced as "low or petty misdemeanors," are punishable by up to six months' jail time and a $750 fine. If the law states a crime is a misdemeanor but doesn't specify the penalty, the crime defaults to a six-month jail sentence.

Misdemeanors include a wide range of offenses from low-level property crimes to simple assault, stalking, and disorderly conduct. High misdemeanor penalties often apply to repeat offenses or crimes involving a vulnerable victim or increased levels of harm or damage. For instance, the following crimes carry high misdemeanor penalties: reckless abuse of a vulnerable adult, repeat domestic assault or battery, and intimidation in furtherance of a criminal street gang.

(Wyo. Stat. §§ 6-10-101, 6-10-103 (2024).)

Will You Go to Jail for a Misdemeanor in Wyoming?

Jail is a possibility for a misdemeanor conviction. Offenders who cause bodily harm to a victim, commit repeat offenses, or don't comply with probation terms will likely face jail time. However, for low-level misdemeanors or first-time offenders, the judge will likely consider alternatives to jail time, such as probation, community service, or participation in a supervised treatment program. Defendants who qualify for the first-offender program have a chance to avoid a conviction (and criminal record) altogether.

Sentencing Alternatives to Jail for Misdemeanors in Wyoming

Sentencing alternatives vary by crime in Wyoming and can include diversion, probation, restitution, intensive supervision or treatment programs, and community service. Depending on the offense, the statute may also authorize extended probation periods.

First-Offender Program

To qualify for Wyoming's first-offender program, the defendant must get the prosecutor's consent and have no prior felony convictions. (Certain offenses don't qualify for this diversion program.)

The defendant must enter a guilty plea or plea of no contest, but the judge won't enter the conviction. Instead, the judge places the defendant on probation for at least one year and up to three years, during which time the defendant must remain crime-free, report to the court, pay restitution to victims, and obey other terms the court imposes.

If the defendant successfully complies with probation, the court can dismiss the proceedings against the defendant (no conviction results). But a violation can mean a conviction and possible jail time. Participation in the first-offender program is strictly limited to one time only.

Misdemeanor Probation

When sentencing misdemeanors, Wyoming judges also have the option to suspend a sentence and place the defendant on probation. When suspending a sentence, the judge holds off on either handing down the sentence or sending the defendant to jail.

In either case, the sentence remains suspended only if the defendant complies with the probation terms, which could be attending counseling or addiction treatment, completing community service, abstaining from alcohol or drugs, or remaining crime-free. The judge can also require an employed defendant to continue working and be confined to jail during non-work hours—sometimes called work release. Other available options include electronic monitoring, house arrest, drug testing, curfew checks, educational or vocational counseling, or participation in a court-supervised treatment program or 24/7 sobriety program.

If the defendant shows progress during probation, the law allows the judge to reduce the probationary term. On the flip side, the judge may extend, modify, or revoke probation for violations. If revoked, the judge proceeds with the case or sentencing as if the suspension never took place.

(Wyo. Stat. §§ 5-12-116, 7-13-301 to -305, 7-13-501, 7-13-1102, 7-13-1303, 7-13-1614, 7-13-1708 (2024).)

Enhanced Penalties: When Misdemeanors Become Felonies in Wyoming

In some cases, Wyoming law enhances repeat misdemeanors to felonies, including repeat stalking, domestic battery, and impaired driving offenses. For instance, Wyoming incrementally increases the penalty for repeat impaired driving offenses (called DUIs). A person convicted of a fourth DUI in 10 years faces a seven-year felony penalty. (Wyo. Stat. §§ 6-2-506, 6-2-511; 31-5-233 (2024).)

Expungement of Misdemeanors in Wyoming

A person convicted of a misdemeanor can apply to the court to have their criminal record expunged (or sealed) after five years have passed from the completion of the sentence, including any terms of probation. Offenses involving firearms are not eligible for expungement. A healthcare provider who commits sexual battery against a patient also doesn't qualify.

(Wyo. Stat. § 7-13-1501 (2024).)

No Criminal Statutes of Limitations in Wyoming

Statutes of limitations set a time limit for prosecutors to begin criminal prosecutions. Wyoming is one of two states with no statute of limitations for any crimes, meaning the state can generally file charges at any time after the offense is committed.

Getting Legal Help

While a misdemeanor carries less serious penalties than a felony, a misdemeanor conviction can still have serious, negative consequences. For instance, any time in jail could potentially lead to losing your job or even your housing. Having a misdemeanor conviction can make it difficult to find a job, obtain housing, apply for loans, or qualify for a professional license. If you're facing any criminal charges, contact a criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights throughout the proceedings and help you obtain a favorable outcome. Local attorneys know the system, prosecutors, and judges well, which can be helpful in your defense.

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