Scales of justice
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For years, Casper’s municipal court sentenced minors convicted of possessing alcohol to probation.

The practice came to a potentially permanent end in July after a Wyoming Supreme Court ruling declared this was illegal. City ordinance limits a sentencing for minor in possession to only a maximum $750 fine, the court said, and a possible jail sentence is required to issue probation.

At the Casper City Council’s work session Tuesday night, Council members will discuss their next steps.

Council has three choices, according to a memo created by former city attorney Bill Luben, who ended his long tenure with Casper City Hall last week.

One option is to leave the law alone, which means that from here on out the municipal court will be permitted to issue only a fine for minors convicted with possession of alcohol.

Another option is to amend the law to provide for a maximum sentence of six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $750.

The third choice Council will consider is the option to repeal the law and its penalty section, which would mean that minors in possession of alcohol would be issued tickets and the matter would be handled by Circuit Court, which already has the authority to order probation.

Explaining that he sees no reason to be harsh with minors, Councilman Dallas Laird said Monday that he thinks the law should be left alone.

“I don’t think it’s that serious of a crime,” he said.

Laird, an attorney, was the lawyer who first challenged the city court’s practice after his teenage client received probation after being charged with possession of alcohol in 2015.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Council members will also discuss whether to do away with the city’s alcohol court.

Katie King covers the city of Casper.


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