Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, vacated his accompanying sentence, and reversed the district court’s order dismissing Defendant’s pro se motion under Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-1507, holding that Defendant’s motion was not procedurally barred and that the district court erred in dismissing the motion. Defendant filed his third section 60-1507 motion claiming that multiple errors led to his 2003 convictions for felony murder and numerous other felonies. The district court dismissed the motion as time barred, successive, and noncompliant with the pleading requirements of Supreme Court Rule 183(e). The Court of Appeals concluded that Defendant had demonstrated the requisite manifest injustice to prevent his motion from being time-barred because his conviction for conspiracy to commit kidnapping was likely multiplicitous but affirmed on the bases of being successive and noncompliant with Supreme Court rules. The Supreme Court reversed and reversed Defendant’s kidnapping conviction, holding (1) Defendant’s motion substantially complied with Supreme Court Rule 183(e); and (2) the district court failed to make the requisite findings of fact and conclusions of law to support its decision. View "Nguyen v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court remanded this case to the district court for a new hearing on the State’s motion to correct an illegal sentence, holding that prosecutorial error may occur during a sentencing proceeding before a judge and that the analytical framework from State v. Sherman, 387 P.3d 1060 (Kan. 2016) applies in both the guilt and penalty phases of any trial. Defendant failed to meet his probation terms and was ordered to serve his underlying prison sentence of thirty-two months. The State later moved to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that the district court erred by not imposing lifetime postrelease supervision as part of Defendant’s original sentence. The district court granted the motion. On appeal, Defendant argued that prosecutorial misconduct occurred during the hearing on the motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Supreme Court agreed and remanded the case, holding (1) Sherman provides the best measure to evaluate the prosecutorial error in the context of Defendant’s sentencing hearing before a district court judge; and (2) applying the Sherman test, the prosecutor was outside the wide latitude afforded when arguing the State’s motion to correct an illegal sentence. View "State v. Wilson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court’s order suppressing drug-related evidence seized during a residential search supported by a warrant, holding that the affidavit facts provided a substantial basis for the issuing judge’s determination that there was a fair probability that evidence of illegal marijuana possession would be found in the home. Specifically, the Court held (1) Miranda warnings were required before Defendant made incriminating statements used to support the warrant, and therefore, the incriminating statements were properly suppressed where the warnings were not given before the statements were made; but (2) the officer’s testimony that he executed the smell of raw marijuana coming from the residence provided the probable cause for the search warrant. View "State v. Regelman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s misdemeanor convictions of possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, holding that the totality of the circumstances surrounding a police officer’s detection of the smell of raw marijuana emanating from a residence can supply probable cause to believe that the residence contains contraband or evidence of a crime. On appeal, Defendant argued that his motion to suppress should have been granted because police officers’ warrantless entry into his residence, purportedly for officer safety and to prevent evidence destruction, violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The court of appeals affirmed but stopped short of finding that the odor of marijuana would have provided probable cause for officers to conduct a search of Defendant’s apartment because that search occurred after a warrant was issued. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) probable cause plus the exigent circumstances exception permitted the initial warrantless entry into Defendant’s apartment for a security sweep; and (2) to the extent the drug paraphernalia evidence and the search warrant were fruits of a warrantless search, the sweep was not illegal and the challenged evidence was not subject to exclusion. View "State v. Hubbard" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of possession of cocaine, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, and related offenses, holding primarily that the trial court did not err in refusing to suppress drug evidence found in Defendant’s vehicle after a police officer’s warrantless search. Specifically, the Court held (1) the initial seizure of Defendant’s person did not violate his Fourth Amendment rights, and his extended holding in the police car did not make his seizure illegal; (2) even if there were an initial vehicle seizure when pulling Defendant over to effect his arrest, that seizure ended when Defendant parked the car, got out, locked it, and stated he would not consent to its search; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s fleeing conviction. View "State v. Parker" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence of life without the possibility of parole for fifty years (hard fifty sentence), holding that the district court’s retroactive application of Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-6620 did not violate the prohibition on ex post facto laws. Defendant was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to a hard fifty sentence. The Supreme Court vacated the hard fifty sentence and remanded. On remand, the district court again imposed a hard fifty sentence. Defendant appealed the district court’s determination that it could retroactively apply the hard fifty sentencing procedures of section 21-6620. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the retroactive application of the hard fifty sentencing procedures in section 21-6620 to Defendant’s resentencing did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause. View "State v. Hayes" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motions to modify his sentence and to order a new presentence investigation report (PSI) on remand from the decision of the Court of Appeals vacating Defendant’s original sentence, holding that Defendant was not prejudiced by the district court’s denial of his request for a new PSI but that remand was required for the district court to consider anew the possibility of probation on the record. After a resentencing hearing, the district court imposed life imprisonment for Defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder. Defendant later filed a motion to modify or reduce his sentence claiming that he should have been given an updated PSI for the court to consider that took into account his changed physical condition since the last report and that the court erred in not ordering probation. The district court denied the motion for modification and declared moot his motion for a new PSI, ruling that Defendant had received the only sentence available under the law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court did not err in refusing to request an updated PSI; but (2) the district court abused its discretion in not considering probation. View "State v. Rice" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed defendant’s convictions for premeditated first-degree murder and criminal possession of a firearm, holding that Defendant was not prejudiced or deprived of a fair trial. Specifically, the Court held (1) while the state’s witnesses violated the district court’s order in limine, the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s motion for mistrial on those grounds; (2) the sequential ordering of the jury instructions for the degrees of homicide was legally correct; (3) the failure to give a Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-455 limiting instruction on the evidence in Sims' stipulation to a prior felony conviction was erroneous, but it was not clearly erroneous; and (4) the totality of the circumstances did not prejudice Defendant or deprive him of a fair trial. View "State v. Sims" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals affirming Defendant’s conviction for one count of possession or use of a commercial explosive, holding that, although several errors occurred during Defendant’s trial, the errors and assumed errors, even taken in their cumulative effect, did not prejudicially effect the jury’s verdict. Defendant’s conduct leading to his convictions was putting gunpowder in a beer can and lighting it with a fuse. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred when it allowed the State to use the phrases “pipe bomb” and “improvised explosive device” to describe the devices he constructed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to show that the use of the words at issue was improper or unfairly prejudiced his defense; (2) any error in the court’s admission of testimony that the legally obtained items were combined to make an “illegal improvised explosive device” was harmless; and (3) any error in the jury instructions was harmless. View "State v. Ingham" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for aggravated burglary, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, and domestic battery, holding that while the trial court erred in failing to give two lesser included offense instructions, neither rose to the level of clear error. Specifically, the Court held (1) sufficient evidence supported Defendant’s aggravated burglary conviction; (2) Defendant’s convictions for aggravated burglary and domestic battery were not mutually exclusive or logically inconsistent; (3) the district court did not invade the province of the jury in instructing the jury that the State had to prove Defendant committed aggravated assault by using “a deadly weapon, a baseball bat”; (4) the district court made two instructional errors, but neither error was clear error requiring reversal of Defendant’s aggravated assault or aggravated battery convictions; (5) Kansas’ aggravated battery statute, Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-5413(b)(1)(B) is not unconstitutionally vague; and (6) cumulative error did not deprive Defendant of a fair trial. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law