Criminal Law in Kansas
The bottom line of this article is that it's imperative that you consult with a Kansas criminal defense attorney if you are being questioned or have been arrested in a Kansas crime.
To find a qualified attorney:
- Do an Internet search for "How to find a Kansas criminal defense attorney."
- Interview a few lawyers who focus their practice on criminal defense law and with whom you'd be interested in working with. In defense cases, initial consultations are free.
- Ask questions about how the lawyer can help you, what you can expect, how you communicate, fees, how long everything will take, and anything else on your mind.
- Select the attorney you're most comfortable with.
We'll go ahead and provide you with helpful general educational information about Kansas criminal law; however each criminal case is unique. Your individual situation must be fully analyzed by a criminal defense lawyer to determine the best strategy for the most effective defense.
In this article (which is based upon Kansas criminal law), we'll discuss:
- Kansas criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Kansas; and
- How to work with your Kansas criminal defense attorney.
Kansas Criminal Laws
Kansas criminal laws are found in the Revised Kansas Criminal Code.
- A code groups laws by subject matter.
- Criminal law designates certain actions or inactions as crimes to uphold social control, and deter criminal behavior.
There are many crimes listed in the Revised Kansas Criminal Code such as extortion, shoplifting, auto theft, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, drunk driving, child abuse, prostitution, gambling, and forgery.
Two of your first questions for your attorney need to be, "What is the crime I am charged with? What does it mean?"
Statute of Limitations
Some crimes have a time limit for prosecution. This means that criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred.
For example, in Kansas, the statute of limitations for:
- First or Second-Degree Murder is unlimited, meaning that charges can be brought now or anytime in the future (Kan. Stat. В§21-3106(1)).
- Receiving Stolen Property is 5 years, if the value of the property is $1,000 or more (Kan. Stat. В§21-3106(4)).
- Burglary is 5 years (Kan. Stat. В§21-3106(4)).
This is but a very brief sampling; ask your criminal defense lawyer if the statute of limitations may be a complete defense in your particular case. It's not likely, but the prosecutor may have made a mistake.
Kansas has sentencing guidelines that provide standard punishments. After conviction, the judge orders a presentence investigation report, known as a "PSI".
- The PSI includes the severity of the crime committed, criminal history, and the standard sentencing range.
- The defense attorney checks the PSI for accuracy and brings any mitigating circumstances to light. Mitigating circumstances may lessen the standard (i.e. presumed) punishment.
Sentences need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by an experienced Kansas criminal defense attorney, but we'll provide some examples:
- For possession of drugs and no criminal history, a 10-12 month jail sentence would be the sentence. However, probation may be ordered.
- For a 2nd offense DUI, which is a Class A misdemeanor, the presumptive sentence is 5 days to 1 year in jail with fine ranging from $1,250 to $1,750.
- For murder and kidnapping, the death penalty may be the sentence, if there were aggravated circumstances.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
Your life, liberty, and money may be at risk.
- Attorneys are not all the same. You need a qualified Kansas criminal defense lawyer, immediately.
- What you say to your attorney is confidential. You need to be completely honest and open with your attorney.
- What you say can and will be used against you. Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.
How to Work with a Kansas Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your defense depends upon your cooperation and good sense. You need to actively participate in your own defense. This is your "to do" list.
- You're paying for legal advice. Take and abide by the advice given by your attorney.
- Even if you think something will make you look bad, disclose it. Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened.
- Return phone calls promptly.
- Provide all requested information in a timely manner.
- Make sure the criminal defense law office has your current address and phone number.
- Your attorney may ask you hard questions or make you angry. This is normal and an important part of the development of your defense.
- Your attorney will likely be polite and cooperative with witnesses, police officers, alleged victims, investigators, and the prosecutor. This is normal, professional, and an important part of the development of your defense
Bottom Line: Qualified Kansas criminal defense attorneys know Kansas criminal law, understand the criminal charges against you, are experienced in dealing with judges and juries, and know how to best put forward a strong and strategic defense. This is not a time to go it alone.