CITY OF CASPER, WYOMING, A WYOMING MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, Petitioner,
SHAINA SIMONSON, Respondent.
Proceeding Petition for Writ of Review District Court of
Natrona County Honorable Catherine E. Wilking, Judge
G. Way, Assistant City Attorney, Casper, Wyoming Representing
J. Laird, Attorney at Law, Casper, Wyoming Representing
BURKE, C.J., and HILL, DAVIS, FOX, and KAUTZ, JJ.
Shaina Simonson claimed in a district court appeal that the
probationary portion of a sentence imposed by the municipal
court in Casper was illegal. The district court agreed, and
the City of Casper challenged that ruling by filing a
petition for a writ of review. We grant the writ of review, and
we affirm the district court.
The City poses a single question:
Does a municipal court have the power to impose a term of
probation on a defendant if the ordinance governing the
offense committed provides for punishment only by a fine?
instructed the parties to also brief the issue of whether the
City should be granted, in light of City of Sheridan v.
Cadle, 24 Wyo. 293, 157 P. 892 (1916), and City of
Laramie v. Mengel, 671 P.2d 340 (Wyo. 1983), a writ of
At approximately 1:00 a.m. on October 31, 2015, two Casper
police officers responded to a complaint of loud music being
played at what appeared to be a party at a residence on South
Elk Street. After investigation, the officers arrested the
twenty-year-old host of the festivities, whose mother was not
home, and issued citations to ten other individuals between
the ages of seventeen and twenty for violating Casper
Municipal Code § 5.08.370(A) and (B). Ms. Simonson, who
was eighteen at the time, was one of those individuals.
Although her case was set for a bench trial, she eventually
decided to enter a no contest plea to the charge. At the combined
change of plea and sentencing hearing, the municipal court
twice described the maximum penalty faced by Simonson as a
$750 fine. Shortly thereafter the city attorney recommended
what he characterized as the standard penalty for a
first-time offender of the minor in possession ordinance.
That consisted of a $750 fine plus $10 court costs, the
suspension of all but $160 of that amount, and six months of
Simonson's attorney responded that, except for the fine,
such a sentence would be illegal because the City had
authorized nothing but a fine for the misdemeanor offense of
being a minor in possession of an alcoholic beverage. He
directed the court to the provisions of Casper Municipal Code
§ 1.28.010, which established the penalties available
for acts made unlawful by the Code, including the one for
which Simonson was convicted.
Subsection B of that ordinance provides:
Any misdemeanor committed in the city shall be punishable
only by a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars,
to which may be added court costs as set by the municipal
court, but not to exceed ten dollars for all violations,
except as otherwise provided.
Casper Municipal Code 1.28.010(B) (emphasis
added). Subsection C provides for incarceration,
but only with respect to repeat offenders, and then only with
respect to enumerated offenses. Being a minor in possession
of alcohol is not one of those offenses.
Only subsection E of the penalty ordinance has any
application to that offense, but it deals only ...