Sentencing in Kansas can be very complicated. There are many little nuances depending on the nature of each case and the circumstances surrounding the case. Any time someone is charged with a felony or misdemeanor charge for which prison or jail time may be imposed, it is necessary to meet with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the complexities of sentencing in Kansas.
In the state of Kansas, the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines, adopted by the legislature, dictate the sentencing for a felony conviction. Generally, in Kansas the sentencing grid will determine the sentence for a felony. However, there are a small number of crimes that do not fit on the grid, and the sentencing for those crimes is individually outlined by the legislature. If a case is within the majority of the felony crimes in Kansas that fall on the sentencing grid, two factors determine the sentence: Criminal History and the Severity Level of the crime.
There are two grids: non-drug and drug. The non-drug grid contains ten severity levels of offenses. The non-drug felony offenses range from theft to rape and murder. Level 1 offenses represent the most serious offences and Level 10 represent the least serious offense.
The drug grid contains offenses such as possession, distribution, manufacturing and cultivation of controlled substances. The drug grid contains four levels of offenses. Level 1 offenses represent the most serious offences and Level 4 represent the least serious offense.
Criminal History in Kansas is classified as "A" through "I" depending on a person's past criminal history. Criminal History Score "A" is the highest criminal history score. This score would be assigned to a person with three (3) or more person-felonies. Criminal History Score "I" is the lowest criminal history score. This score would be assigned to a person with only one (1) misdemeanor conviction or no criminal history.
Once the Criminal History and the Severity Level of the offense are determined, the grids will dictate the sentencing range and disposition (i.e. probation or prison):
The grid has separate boxes that contain three (3) numbers which represent the range in months that the Court could order as prison time. Tracing the point on the grid where the Criminal History and Severity Level intersect will determine which box a person would fall on the grid.
Probation or Prison?
In Kansas, the legislature has designated convictions as "Presumptive Probation" "Presumptive Prison" and "Border Box." If a defendant is convicted of or pleads guilty to a Presumptive Probation offense, the legislature "presumes" that the defendant is entitled to a contract of probation. The defendant, however, could serve the underlying sentence if he or she violates the terms and conditions of the probation contract.
If a defendant is convicted of or pleads guilty to a Presumptive Prison offense, the legislature "presumes" that the defendant is NOT entitled to a contract of probation and must serve the underlying sentence. A defendant can avoid prison only if the Court formally "departs" from the sentencing guidelines by finding "substantial and compelling reasons" to grant probation.
If a defendant is convicted of or pleads guilty to a "Border Box" offense, the legislature "presumes" that the defendant is NOT entitled to a contract of probation and must serve the underlying sentence. However, the Court is allowed to grant probation at the request or agreement of the parties as long as the Court is satisfied that a program is available to the defendant that will ensure community safety interests by promoting the defendant's rehabilitation and reducing the likelihood of recidivism.
Multiple Felony Charges
In Kansas the Court will, with some limitations, order the counts to run consecutive or concurrent. If the court orders the counts consecutive, the time on the separate counts will run "back-to-back". If the court orders the counts concurrent, the time on the separate counts will run simultaneously.
In Kansas misdemeanor classification is relatively simple to understand. There are three classes of misdemeanors based on the potential sentence: Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A misdemeanors-such as 2nd offense DUI, possession of marijuana, theft-have a potential sentence of up to 1 year in jail. Class B misdemeanors-such as DUI, Driving While Suspended, Criminal Damage to Property, Criminal Trespass-have a potential sentence of up to 6 months in jail. Class C misdemeanors-such as minor in possession (MIP), disorderly conduct-have a potential sentence of up to 30 days in jail.
The Court has the discretion to determine how much time is imposed and whether a contract of probation is granted or jail time is imposed. All misdemeanors are subject to fines.
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Overland Park, Kansas 66212
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