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How a Strangulation Accusation Can Lead to More Serious Charges

By stladmin on February 17, 2021

Wyoming courts have complex and harsh laws for violent crimes. We are one of the few states to have a specific charge for strangulation, which has a unique legal definition. This charge can result in years of jail time, court fees, and a ruined reputation. However, depending on the circumstances, defendants can face more serious charges.

What Is Wyoming’s Strangulation Law?

Under Wyoming Statute Section 6-2-509, strangulation is a felony crime that involves “intentionally and knowingly or recklessly” attempting to harm a family member “by impeding the normal breathing or circulation of blood,” such as by applying pressure to the throat or neck or covering the mouth or nose. If convicted of this charge, a defendant can face up to five years in prison, thousands of dollars in court fines, a restraining order, and possible restitution payments to the victim.

However, this law applies to a very specific situation under the law. First, a defendant must have intended to and either “knowingly or recklessly” caused, or attempted to cause, bodily harm to a “household member.” As an intent crime, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was aware that their actions could harm the alleged victim. In addition, this law specifically overlaps with domestic violence charges, as it can only be charged if the defendant and victim lived together, are married, had a child together, or had dated at some point.

Outside of the specific charge of strangulation of a household member, this charge can become much more serious in other situations.

What Charges Overlap With Strangulation Charges?

If the alleged victim was not a household member, then a strangulation charge can shift into other violent crimes. Strangulation has a lot of similarities with a simple battery charge. Battery charges apply when a defendant “intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly” causes bodily harm to another person and can result in a misdemeanor punishment of up to six months in jails and a $750 fine.

While this is a much lighter sentence than one for strangulation, it is important to understand that the severity of the alleged crime can also increase its penalties. The act of strangulation can be seen as a form of aggravated assault and battery, which follows the same definition of simple battery, but is charged when the defendant demonstrates “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” Given the risks of strangulation leading to death, a prosecution may choose to pursue this charge, which comes with 10 years in state prison.

The matter becomes much worse if the victim died as a result of the alleged crime. In this instance, the prosecution may pursue a homicide charge against the defendent, which can mean either manslaughter or murder. Manslaughter involves a violent crime where a defendant kills someone else in the heat of passion or due to reckless actions. In contrast, murder must involve some level of malice or premeditation, meaning it was planned.

Both of these charges can lead to a significant amount of prison time, including the potential for life in prison or the death penalty with murder.

Strangulation cases are complex and require a thorough investigation. There are many factors that can influence the charges against you, but you should not give up hope. At Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., our Gillette criminal defense lawyers have years of experience defending clients from accusations of strangulation, battery, and homicide, each with positive case results. By working with a team of trial attorneys, your case will receive a strong defense.

To learn how we can defend you in a Campbell County court, call Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., at (307) 257-7800 and schedule a free case evaluation.

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