Yes, You Can Still Be Charged for Cattle Rustling
Castle rustling brings to mind the Wild West, which is fitting given the state of Wyoming’s rich history of cowboy culture. In reality, it is actually an official law in Wyoming that is still enforced today and there are specific procedures for how these cases are evaluated.
Cattle Laws in Wyoming
Under WY Stat § 6-3-413 (2014), cattle rustler is defined as:
“a person who knowingly takes or exercises unlawful control over or makes an unauthorized transfer of an interest in any horse, mule, sheep, cattle, buffalo or swine with the purpose of depriving the lawful owner or possessor of the same is guilty of livestock rustling.”
Essentially, in Wyoming, the crime of cattle rustling would be prosecuted as a theft crime and can come with a felony conviction. While you may assume this law is archaic and has not been enforced, there was a case in April 2018, as reported by the Gillette News Record. The defendant, Robert Baylock, was accused of illegally entering the property of one Rick Grant in Converse County and leading one of Grant’s calves off the property. He was eventually convicted in January 2020 and sentenced to a maximum penalty of ten years in a Wyoming state prison and a $10,000 fine.
What Are the Punishments?
The case against Robert Baylock is an interesting one, as the defendant was charged with the maximum sentence for livestock rustling, which includes imprisonment for up to ten years and a fine of up to $10,000. As these crimes are rare, it appears that Wyoming court wanted to make an example of Baylock and warn other would-be cattle rustlers from committing similar offenses.
However, the penalties are still up for debate. Currently, the Wyoming Senate is considering a bill known as House Bill 16 which would consolidate several theft crimes across the state. Among these include an automatic felony charge for crimes involving the theft of a firearm and make any theft crime that involves stealing property worth at least $1,500 an automatic felony.
Under the current version of the bill, cattle rustling would also remain a felony no matter the value of the livestock, but several senators have raised discussions about the severity of the crime. Some have proposed amendments that would reduce the charges to a misdemeanor, but proponents of the bill have pushed back, arguing that the crime is so easy to commit that it should be heavily enforced.
Accused of Cattle Rustling?
Cattle rustling may seem like a rarity nowadays, but that does not mean you should take these charges lightly. A felony offense can lead to a loss of the right to own firearms, vote, and seek employment from certain jobs, in addition to the hefty fines and prison sentences. Even allowing another rancher’s livestock to enter your property can be mistaken as cattle rustling, and you will want to employ a strong defense to avoid facing a felony conviction.
If you have been charged with cattle rustling in Campbell County, then contact the Gillette criminal defense attorneys at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. We are no strangers to the complexities of Wyoming state law and can vigorously defend you against all charges. To learn how we can protect your rights, contact us at (307) 257-7800.
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