Felony theft offenses in Wyoming may result in a punishment that includes incarceration of up to 10 years and a $10,000 fine. For a felony charge, the property, goods or money allegedly taken must have a value of at least $1,000. An amount valued less than $1,000 may classify as a misdemeanor theft, which generally leads to a lesser punishment.
Under certain circumstances, an individual facing a felony theft conviction may enter into a plea bargain to negotiate a reduction in a charge or sentence. A plea bargain, however, could mean that the individual forgoes his or her right to a jury trial.
The right to a speedy trial
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides each individual with the right to a fair and speedy jury trial. An unreasonable delay in the legal procedure may offer a defendant the ability to begin negotiating with a prosecutor. Accepting a plea bargain may help to move the case forward and, based on the prosecutor’s evidence, result in a more lenient outcome.
Relief for a case on hold
As reported by the Powell Tribune, law enforcement officials arrested a Wyoming resident after finding in his home dozens of boxes filled with allegedly stolen goods. The value of all the items totaled more than $13,000, which would classify the theft offense as a felony, bringing 10 years of imprisonment if convicted.
The 44-year-old man, however, spent almost 11 months in jail waiting for a trial. His case remained in a pending status for about two years before he decided to enter into a plea deal. While he believed in his innocence, the man agreed to plead guilty to one felony theft count to move his stalled case forward.
While the plea bargain resulted in his conviction of a felony theft charge, it also enabled the defendant to trade further incarceration for supervised probation. The judge suspended a three- to five-year sentence, ordered him to pay a $275 fine and placed him on three years of supervised release.