District Courts May Impose Sentences Concurrently or Consecutively When the Sentencing Occurs for Multiple Cases on the Same Day

Author: Michael Raven, Comments Editor

State v. Dunham, No. 121,081 (Kan. Ct. App., July 31, 2020)

Issue: Following his probation revocation, the trial court sentenced Jeremy Dunham for multiple cases on the same date. Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6606 generally allows court discretion in imposing consecutive or concurrent sentences, but requires consecutive sentences if the defendant committed a crime while on probation. Does Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6606 require Dunham’s sentences to run consecutively, rather than concurrently?

Answer: No, the statute gives trial courts deference to impose the sentences concurrently or consecutively.

Facts: Jeremy Dunham pled no contest or guilty in five cases related to drug charges. The court placed him on probation for cases one and two, but while on probation he committed the crimes charged in the fourth and fifth cases. Cases two, three, four and five were felonies. The district court revoked Dunham’s probation and imposed prison sentences for the three later cases. The sentences for cases three, four and five were consecutive because the district court believed consecutive sentences were required by Kansas law. Dunham appealed.

Discussion: The Court outlined the history of Kansas’ relevant statute and caselaw, noting that State v. Edwards provided guidance. In Edwards, the Kansas Supreme Court analyzed Kan. Stat. Ann. 1992 Supp. § 21-4608(a), now codified as Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6606(a), and found it controlled when a defendant was sentenced for multiple cases in the same day. There, the defendant was serving a suspended sentence, which was revoked and resentenced along with an additional conviction. The Court found that Kan. Stat. Ann. 1992 Supp. § 21-4608(a) gave the court the discretion to impose the sentences concurrently or consecutively. Here, because Dunham was being sentenced on multiple cases, the district court erred when it concluded Kansas law required Dunham’s sentences be ran consecutively. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the district court for the purpose of determining whether to run Dunham’s sentences concurrently or consecutively.

Key Authorities: Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6606; State v. Reed, 237 Kan. 685 (1985); State v. Edwards, 252 Kan. 860 (1993) (discussing Kan. Stat. Ann. 1984 Supp. 21-4608 and finding that when separate sentences are imposed on the same date the court has the discretion to run the sentences consecutively or concurrently); State v. Koehn, 266 Kan. 10 (1998).

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