City Council Moves to Amend Penalties for City Code Violations

(Gillette, Wyo.) In a unanimous decision, the Gillette City Council voted to approve an ordinance to amend the penalties for certain violations of the city code. The ordinance was voted on during its second reading at the evening council meeting of Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The ordinance seeks to change the possibilities of jail time for certain city code violations such as: public intoxication, possession/use of marijuana, assault and battery, minors in possession, minor in licensed building, resisting arrest, and reckless driving. Should the ordinance be approved, probation could be a viable option for first time offenders, says Interim City Attorney Anthony Reyes.

The ordinance to amend the city code is in response to a Wyoming Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, which determined that any probation sentences passed without the possibility of a jail term were unlawful.

According to Interim City Attorney Anthony Reyes, the City of Gillette has, in the past, levied probation sentences on individuals for misdemeanor charges of drug and alcohol violations. In some cases, a jail sentence was not warranted.

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“We felt it was necessary for a person to have the chance to be put on probation,” Reyes said.

But the Wyoming Supreme Court Ruling has now made that impossible, and has expressly stated that cities would need to change their ordinances to comply in order to continue as they are, though they knew how difficult it could be. For Gillette however, the process to amend the city code has been going smoothly.

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Reyes said that changing Gillette’s city ordinances in order to be compliant with the Wyoming Supreme Court ruling was an easy task.

“It’s not anything that the city disagrees with,” Reyes said.

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The city does not wish to simply fine people and send them on their way, nor do they wish for every crime to have a jail sentence attached to it. Both are reasons why the city wishes to continue handling probation as it always has.

“It’s a tool our judges would like to have,” Reyes said, which would allow these people to get the help they require, supervised or not.

The ordinance is still in the approval stages and will not take effect until after the third reading later this month at the next city council work session, says Geno Palazzari with the City of Gillette.

Following the third reading, the ordinance must be published in the newspaper, the Gillette News Record, before it can be officially implemented Palazzari said.