Criminal Defense Attorney in Lawrence, Kansas
If you’ve recently been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you may be unclear about your next steps or what penalties you might be facing. In 2019, the state of Kansas reported 15,614 felony sentences, an increase over the last two years. You can take steps today to reduce your chances of facing a conviction by calling me at Chahine Legal LLC. My office is located in Lawrence, Kansas but I proudly serve clients all across Kansas and Missouri, including Olathe, Overland Park, and Lenexa.
Criminal Charges in Kansas
Crimes are classified into different categories based on their nature and severity.
A misdemeanor is a criminal charge with potential jail time of less than a year. The state of Kansas breaks misdemeanor charges into three classifications: A, B, C, and unclassified.
Class A: The most serious charge, resulting in jail time of up to a year and a fine of $2,500. An example of a Class A misdemeanor would be a drug charge like possession of marijuana.
Class B: These charges carry potential jail time of up to six months and a $1,000 fine. Examples would be a DUI, battery, or property damage over $1,000.
Class C: These charges carry potential jail time of one month and a $500 fine. Examples include soliciting a prostitute or some types of assault.
Unclassified: These charges generally carry the same penalties as Class C misdemeanors and are any crime that hasn’t yet been categorized.
The penalties depend on the type of crime, amount of damage, whether the crime was committed against a person, and the motive. For example, if you are charged with theft, the penalty will increase with the amount of money or value of the item that you stole. Most common traffic violations are considered misdemeanors.
A felony is a criminal charge with potential jail time of a year or more. Kansas law classifies felonies as “drug crimes” or “non-drug crimes,” and penalties are based on severity, past offenses, and the circumstances of the crime. Judges use a grid for each charge that factors in the level of offense and any prior offenses to determine a sentencing range.
Drug Felonies: Drug felonies are placed on a scale from 1 to 5, with one being the most severe. Selling over a kilogram of narcotics would be a Level 1 and possession of opioids a Level 5.
Non-Drug Felonies: Nondrug felonies are placed on a scale of 1 to 10, with Level 1 being the most severe. Murder is a Level 1, and theft of property valued under $25,000 is a Level 10. A domestic violence charge could potentially be a felony offense depending on prior convictions and the context of the case.
The Kansas Criminal Court Process
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, it can be helpful to know what to expect and how the legal process will proceed.
Judges and prosecutors have leeway when sentencing for misdemeanor crimes. In some cases, a judge will allow a diversion agreement in which the accused agrees to an option like counseling or paying a fee to avoid a criminal conviction, though these are much more likely for low-level charges. Judges may also assign probation, fines, alcohol or drug treatment, or jail time.
All Kansas criminal courts use predetermined penalties with the intention of more uniform sentencing. With each penalty, the judge will be working within a sentencing range, and many cases that fall within the lower severity ranges (Levels 7-10) allow the judge the option to issue probation instead of jail time.
Furthermore, a judge can pronounce a certain amount of “good time” that can reduce your sentence (no more than 15% to 20%) for factors like good behavior while incarcerated. There is no parole system in Kansas, so “good time” is your only option for reducing the amount of sentencing time.
The Appeals Process
The appeals process can be long and difficult, especially for felony charges taken from the district courts to the appeals court. If your case went through the municipal courts, the appeals process is easier and more direct, but it will still require an experienced attorney since the process is much different than a standard criminal trial. During an appeal, a new approach is needed since you are now trying to convince a panel of judges that the previous judge made an error.
Criminal Defense Attorney Serving Lawrence, Kansas
If you’re facing criminal charges, your best option is to hire an experienced lawyer to advocate for your rights and prepare a comprehensive case to seek the most favorable outcome available. At Chahine Legal LLC, I deal with all criminal charges, including juvenile crimes, probation violations, sexual offenses, DUIs, and drug charges. I proudly serve clients throughout Kansas and Missouri.