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Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Wyoming’s purpose clause is combined with definitions.  Some statements that "effectuate the public purposes" are reminiscent of parens patriae, the Legislative Guide for Drafting Family and Juvenile Court Acts (1969) and other phrases of the due process era. The sub-section related to the purpose of the Juvenile Justice Act aligns best with BARJ, as it serves to “…promote the concept of punishment for (delinquent) criminal acts...[and] provide treatment, training and rehabilitation that emphasizes accountability and responsibility of both the parent and the child for the child's conduct, reduces recidivism and helps children to become functioning and contributing adults. It encourages innovative, flexible community collaboration, though it does not expressly mention victims.  One element distinguishes the behavior of children who have been victimized or have disabilities (mental illness and cognitive impairments), which are not commonly mentioned other state's clauses.   

WY ST §14-6-201

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor.

In Wyoming, law enforcement officers (LEO’s) can issue citations for children in violation of a state or federal law or a municipal ordinance for which incarceration or a fine may be imposed. LEO’s have discretion to place a child in detention or shelter care without prior court approval following completion of a risk assessment designed by the sheriffs, and must submit a report to the DA. The facility notifies the court and the DA, who can release the child. An informal detention or shelter care hearing is held within 48 hours (excluding weekends and legal holidays) to determine if further detention or shelter care is required pending further court action. Most allegations of delinquent acts and status offenses permit conditional release, where proceedings can be deferred while the juvenile is monitored under protective supervision of JPO or another agency, with written conditions that include restricting travel, associates, place of abode, curfew, etc. for up to 5 years with 6 month reviews.

Otherwise, complaints alleging delinquency or a child in need of service for committing a status offense are directly referred to the DA who has discretion to dismiss, divert, or bring the matter to the court’s attention by filing a petition. The DA can divert the matter by referring the child and family to alternative community programs, counseling, family preservation services offered by the department of family services, truancy programs or other municipal/circuit court remedies.

Once a petition is filed by the DA, court-approved juvenile counselors appointed by the county commissioner or designated department of family services staff (JPO) conduct a preliminary investigation for the court. The court may issue a consent decree ordering further proceedings held in abeyance and place a delinquent child under the supervision of a probation officer for up to one year. The consent decree requires consent of the DA, the child's attorney and the child.  Parents are notified, but do not have to consent unless placement is part of the agreement. When placement is part of the agreement, 6 and 12 month court reviews are also required. Most felonious charges can be similarly deferred for up to 5 years. For some status offenses in some jurisdictions, teen court community programs supervised by municipal or circuit courts can be utilized to defer proceedings for those over age 13, but is considered an alternative sentence. Terms and conditions typically include those imposed by the teen court program. Upon successful completion, the [juvenile] court may discharge the juvenile from jurisdiction and dismiss the petition.

Statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.

In Wyoming, some court diversions can extend up to 5 years and are reviewed by the court every 6 months.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

Wyoming has juvenile statutory provisions related to juvenile competency when facing delinquency allegations. If it appears to the court (following examination) before the delinquency adjudication that the juvenile is incompetent to participate in further proceedings by reason of mental illness or intellectual disability to a degree rendering the child subject to involuntary commitment to the Wyoming state hospital or the Wyoming life resource center, the court will then hold delinquency proceedings and refer the juvenile for commitment proceedings in District Court. If District Court commits the child to the Wyoming state hospital, the Wyoming life resource center or any other facility or institution for treatment and care of people with a mental illness or an intellectual disability, the delinquency petition is dismissed (and the delinquency case is closed). Otherwise, adjudication and disposition of the child will proceed.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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