3 Post Conviction Relief
Pleas vs. Trials
A plea is when the defendant waives their right to trial by pleading guilty, nolo contendere (no contest), or an Alford plea. Pleading guilty could be pursuant to a plea agreement or without an agreement. Nolo contendere or no contest pleas are treated the same as a guilty plea, but the defendant does not make admissions of guilt. The charging document is recited as the factual basis to sustain the conviction and the Court enters a conviction against the Defendant. The Defendant, by entering this plea, does not contest the allegations contained in the charging document. An Alford plea is made where a criminal defendant does not believe they will win their trial, and therefore they plead guilty on the basis that they themselves believe they will lose at trial, while continuing to assert their innocence. The Court will continue to treat them as guilty and sentence them as if they are guilty. After each of these pleas, the Defendant is convicted, and may appeal their conviction. Although by pleading and not going to trial, it is much more difficult.
There are two types of trials for criminal cases, a jury trial and a bench trial. In a jury trial, the trial judge decides on the law and the admissibility of evidence, and the jury decides the guilt or innocence of the defendant. In a bench trial, the trial judge decides the law as well as the guilt or innocence of the defendant. If a defendant chooses to go to trial and contest the allegations against them, but they are found guilty, they may appeal their conviction.
Sentencing, Incarceration and Probation
After a Defendant is convicted, whether after a plea or after a trial, the Court will sentence the defendant. The sentencing must be made according to the laws and statutes of Wyoming. It is important to have an attorney with you even after you are convicted to help you advocate for the most just sentence possible.
A criminal conviction, after a trial, is not necessarily final. There is only a short window of time when an appeal can be filed. Call us immediately if you desire an appeal- do not hesitate and miss a filing deadline! Direct appeals to the Wyoming Supreme Court must be made within 30 days of the day of written judgement and sentence. If you are convicted, and want to appeal your sentence, that means that time is of the essence. Our attorneys are experienced in appellate procedure and can assist you in your appeal.
MOTIONS FOR SENTENCE REDUCTION
Wyoming law allows a sentence to be reduced under two circumstances. First, when there was an error in law such as an illegal sentence, or time served is not properly credited. Second, a reduced sentence may be warranted, if it is in the interest of justice, due to the completion of a significant program or a major change in circumstance. Under the second option, you must file your sentence reduction motion within 30 days of the day you were sentenced. This deadline is not extended if there is a delay in getting your written Judgement and Sentence signed by the Court.
MOTIONS TO DISCHARGE EARLY FROM PROBATION
If you are currently on probation, and you have completed all your requirements as well as paid restitution, you may be eligible to discharge early from probation.
MOTIONS TO DISCHARGE FROM SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
The federal government and the State of Wyoming have increased the number of criminal convictions that subject you to sex offender registration. Sometimes, it can be a criminal conviction for a misdemeanor from years ago that now subjects you to registry in this state. If you are currently subjected to registration requirements, you may be eligible for a discharge from the registration requirement.
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