Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. The State agreed to recommend to the sentencing court that the sentences for both offenses be ordered to run concurrently, for an aggregate sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility after twenty-five years. The sentencing court imposed a hard twenty-five life sentence for the first-degree premeditated murder but erroneously stated the applicable sentencing range for the attempted first-degree murder count. The court sentenced Defendant to serve 165 months in prison. Despite the parties’ joint recommendation, the court ran the sentences consecutively. When the court was made aware of the sentencing error, the court stated the correct presumptive sentencing range for the attempted murder conviction was 258 to 285 months and then granted Defendant’s request to depart downward to the original sentence of 165 months’ imprisonment. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred when it refused to follow the plea agreement’s recommendation by running his sentences concurrent to each other. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court’s decision was not arbitrary, fanciful, or unreasonable. View "State v. Beck" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s summary dismissal of Defendant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504, holding that Defendant’s sentence was not illegal. Defendant pled guilty to felony murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The district court denied Defendant’s pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence, thus rejecting Defendant’s argument that each time the parole board passed him, it instituted a new and illegal sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 22-3504 was inapplicable to Defendant’s argument because the denial of parole is not a sentence. View "State v. Buford" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction for kidnapping, holding that prosecutorial error occurred when the prosecutor asserted that the alleged victim deserved consideration similar to the presumption of innocence constitutionally recognized for criminal defendants, and this error was not harmless. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence, concluding that the prosecutor improperly commented on the victim’s credibility but that the error was harmless because there was overwhelming evidence against Defendant. The Supreme Court disagreed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that the State did not meet its burden of showing that there was no reasonable possibility that the prosecutor’s error contributed to the guilty verdict. View "State v. McBride" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of failing to register as required by the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), holding that the retroactive application of KORA to Defendant did not amount to a retroactive punishment in violation of the Ex Post Facto Clause. Defendant pled guilty to possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute and to selling cocaine. While Defendant served her prison sentence, the Kansas Legislature amended KORA to require drug offenders such as Defendant to register. After Defendant was paroled, she was found guilty of failing to register and ordered to pay a $200 DNA database fee. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) KORA’s registration requirements as applied to drug offenders are not punishment or subject to the limitations of the Ex Post Facto Clause; (2) Defendant’s original sentence was not illegal; and (3) the district court did not err when it ordered Defendant to pay the DNA database fee over her objection. View "State v. Simmons" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s summary dismissal of Appellant’s Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507 motion asserting that the 2006 amendments to the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA) constituted punishment under the Ex Post Facto Clause so that they could not be retroactively applied to him. The district court denied the motion on the grounds that caselaw has established that the KORA registration requirement does not impose punishment. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision, albeit for a different reason, holding that Appellant failed to show manifest injustice. View "Hayes v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of the district court denying Appellant’s presentence motion to withdraw plea as well as his request to appoint new counsel connected with the requirement that Appellant register as a drug offender pursuant to the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA). On appeal, Appellant argued, in essence, that retroactively requiring him to register violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court held that KORA’s registration requirements as applied to drug offenders are not punishment and subject to the limitations of the Ex Post Facto Clause, and therefore, the district court properly disposed of Appellant’s request. View "State v. Richardson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the court of appeals and district court and vacated Defendant’s convictions, holding that this court could not determine from the record whether the district judge examined any unreasonable “use” of race in the traffic stop of Defendant, which is the conduct prohibited by Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-4609, as opposed to examining whether Defendant’s race was the ultimate “cause” of the traffic stop. The district judge denied Defendant’s motion to suppress. Before the Supreme Court, Defendant argued that a law enforcement officer violated section 22-4609, the biased-police policing statute, in stopping him for a traffic infraction and that this violation required suppression of the evidence obtained during the traffic stop under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3216(1). The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed the decisions of the lower courts, holding that it could not be determined from the record whether the district court applied the correct test to Defendant’s argument that a statutory violation created a possible suppression remedy. View "State v. Gray" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of a panel of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s conviction for failure to register as an offender under the Kansas Offender Registration Act (KORA), Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-4901 et seq. The court held (1) the charging document was sufficient to charge a KORA registration violation even where it failed to allege that Defendant resided in Kingman County; and (2) Defendant could not establish clear error requiring reversal regarding his argument that the jury instructions, which similarly failed to require the jury to find Defendant resided in Kingman County, permitted the jury to convict him without finding each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. Sayler" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of a panel of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s two convictions and sentences for failure to register as require by the Kansas Offender Registration Act. The court held (1) Defendant’s argument that the registration requirements are ex post facto punishment for a drug offense Defendant committed before registration was required for such offenses was foreclosed by State v. Shaylor, 400 P.3d 177 (Kan. 2017); and (2) the complaint initiating one of the convictions was sufficient even where it failed to allege Defendant resided in the county where the State alleged he failed to register. View "State v. Scuderi" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions arising from his participation in two interconnected felony murders that were consolidated for trial. The two homicides were tied together by Defendant’s involvement, drug-related violence, and shared evidence. The court held (1) the trial court did not err in refusing to suppress Defendant’s statements to police because the warnings given to Defendant, in their totality, reasonably conveyed Defendant’s right to counsel as required by Miranda; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions; and (3) the instructions given to the jury were not clearly erroneous. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law