A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota
People who have been convicted of a crime in Wyoming do not always need to go to jail. In certain circumstances, alternatives to jail may be available, especially for first-time non-violent offenders.
Juvenile diversion programs in Wyoming are fairly common. One goal of the juvenile justice system, of course, is to punish people under the age of 18 for breaking the law. But juveniles occupy a special place in the law because another goal of juvenile sentencing is rehabilitation.
Young people are commonly enrolled in a juvenile diversion for possession of controlled substances, possession of alcohol, shoplifting, and breach of the peace.
While diversion programs vary from county to county, they are generally available to young people ages 12 to 17 who are first-time criminal offenders. These programs are available to young people who are willing to admit guilt in a crime and who do not have prior convictions in any jurisdiction, excluding minor traffic offenses.
For those who qualify, the Campbell County Juvenile Diversion Program lasts between 6 months and 1 year, depending on the type of offense and the level of services needed. If the individual fails to complete the program, they may be referred to outside services. If the juvenile offender successfully completes the program, there will be no record of their conviction.
While in Diversion, juvenile offenders in Campbell County must be enrolled in school and must maintain a C average. They must submit to random drug and alcohol testing, and must complete Corrective Thinking Classes and their assigned community service hours. In addition, the juvenile offender must pay restitution and submit an apology to the victims of the crime.
Diversion programs for adults are less common and are more likely to vary from county to county. Some communities may include diversion programs as part of a plea negotiation on a case by case basis that allows adult offenders to avoid prosecution and a criminal record by completing a rehabilitation program. These programs typically include mandatory community service and education that is intended to help people avoid repeat offenses.
The goal of diversion programs is so someone’s one-time poor decisions does not have life-altering consequences.
Some adult diversion programs focus on a particular population, such as people who have problems with substance abuse or suffer from addiction, veterans or active military who enter the criminal justice system because of mental health needs stemming from combat experiences, or people who are suffering from mental illness. Treatment is often a condition of diversion that includes graduated sanctions and rewards, close monitoring by law enforcement and court officials, and education or on-the-job training.
Wyoming’s deferred prosecution statute, WY Stat §7-13-301 allows a person who does not have a prior felony conviction to defer prosecution and be placed on probation for 5 years, during which time they must abide by the terms and conditions set by the court. These conditions include:
If the person completes these requirements, after five years the court will discharge the person and dismiss the charges.
One downside to Wyoming’s diversion statute is that compliance can be difficult. Meeting your obligations under a deferred prosecution agreement can be time consuming, may limit your ability to travel freely or more out-of-state, and requires tremendous self-control. Because deferred prosecution requires compliance for the full 5 years, it is not just an easy way to avoid jail time. But for people who are committed to avoiding future entanglements with the law, deferred prosecution can be an opportunity to avoid having a criminal charge on your record.
If you decide that deferred prosecution is not for you, there are other options available.
Wyoming’s Intensive Supervision Program (ISP) is intended for people who have increased risks or needs, and for whom additional accountability will be an incentive for compliance. The program often includes electronic monitoring, alcohol and drug testing, and home or work contacts, as well as community service requirements, restitution payments, curfews, and mandatory employment. Qualifying adults spend approximately 12 months in the program working through 3 levels of supervision that culminate with the offender being placed under traditional court supervision.
Wyoming’s Incarceration Diversion Program (IDP) is an alternative to prison for non-violent offenders whose crimes were linked to addiction or a mental health diagnosis. While on IDP, people are placed under supervision and take part in individual and group therapy, receive mental health and addiction recovery services, and participate in community service and education projects. Participants must demonstrate a sincere desire to change and, if the court accepts a recommendation for IDP, may be subject to 24-hour monitoring and drug and alcohol screening tests.
If you have been charged with a crime and may be eligible for a punishment that avoids jail time, your attorney should discuss alternatives to jail with you before you agree to plead guilty.
At the Just Criminal Law Group, Wyoming criminal defense attorney Christina L. Williams and her team of criminal defense professionals fight hard to protect your one shot at justice. If you or someone you care about has been charged with a crime, we invite you to learn more about why clients choose us and the communities we serve, and to contact us today to schedule a personalized case review and strategy session by calling (307) 686-6556, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or completing our online form.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.