If you have been through the criminal court process in Kansas and been found guilty of a criminal charge or plead guilty, you now face criminal sentencing. Once you have been convicted of a crime the judge will determine an appropriate sentence. What kind of time or fines you are facing depends, not only on the crime you are convicted of, but several other factors as well. In some misdemeanor cases you may be sentenced the day of trial. However, in most cases the judge will set a later date for sentencing.
Chances are that if you are facing prison time, you have been waiting in jail for your sentencing date. If so, sentencing can be a relief, allowing you to know for certain your fate and to come to terms with it.
What is going on while I am waiting for sentencing?
Kansas law dictates a mandatory pre-sentence investigation (PSI) in all felony cases. The court may also request one in misdemeanor cases as well. The PSI is conducted by a probation officer and is designed to assist the judge in determining your sentence.
A PSI is designed to assist a judge in determining the appropriate sentence for you. The PSI will also help the judge determine if you might be a good candidate for probation. Any time probation or community sanctions are imposed instead of prison, a judge wants to be certain that you are a “good risk”, or not someone who is likely to harm society while in the community.
A PSI includes several things such as:
- Family history
- Psychological evaluation or history
- Connections in the community
- Employment history
- Criminal history
- Victim statements
- Circumstances of the offense
One of the most important pieces of the pre-sentence report is the sentencing recommendation.
The PSI is completed by a probation officer because they have experience dealing with offenders under community supervision and can make an educated recommendation to the judge on your potential success or failure under supervision. A judge does not have to follow the recommendation of the investigating officer. However, most judges to take the recommendation into serious consideration.
What kind of sentence am I facing?
What you will be sanctioned to depends on the type of crime you are convicted of. In general, misdemeanors carry less than one year in prison while felonies are anything that has the potential of more than one year in prison.
Some offenses have a certain sentence spelled out in statute. Most of them, however, give the judge a range or a minimum suggested sentence to work from, and a presumptive sentence. But generally, the sentencing recommendation and other factors go into the judge’s determination of where your penalty will fall in the range of possible sentences.
Kansas has extensive sentencing guidelines in place for felony convictions. Grids assist judges in determining your sentence by the severity of the crime and your criminal history. Each conviction is prescribed a sentencing range for the judge to work within. “Aggravating” circumstances will cause the judge to sentence on the high end of the range, while “mitigating” circumstances push the judge to the lower end of the guideline.
Depending on your conviction, you may be eligible to serve your sentence in the community while under supervision. Probation allows for a portion of your sentence to be suspended while you continue your life in the community. Probation terms are determined by the courts and can be adjusted to fit your specific needs. You may be required to submit to random drug tests, abide by a curfew, or attend classes. Probation ranges from extremely lenient to extremely structured.
Your supervising probation officer will report back to the courts on your success while on probation. If you violate the terms of probation, you may be required to go back to court and serve the entire sentence that was previously suspended.
What Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Do During Sentencing?
A good criminal defense attorney can increase your chances at being sentenced to probation instead of active prison time. By knowing the Kansas statutes, and knowing the courts and the judges, I can make a suggestion during a sentencing argument that the court may agree to. I can argue for leniency based on all of the factors above.
If you are charged with a criminal offense in Kansas, or have been charged with a probation violation, call me for a free legal consultation. I know the Kansas criminal courts, and can help you figure out your options, and defend yourself. The right attorney can make all the difference when you are up against the Kansas criminal justice system. Call me at my Overland Park / Kansas City office at (888) 439-4244.