Shifting Sands: Kansas’s Criminal Sentencing Guidelines

Doug Bartel, Staff Editor

State v. Terrell, No. 122,680 (Kan. Feb. 18, 2022)

Issue: Does the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act (“the Act”), K.S.A. §§ 21-6801–6824, require courts to classify crimes as person or nonperson at the time of the original sentence or at the time of the most recent crime?

Answer: Kansas courts should classify crimes as person or nonperson at the time of the most recent crime. 

Facts: Terrell plead guilty to rape in 2002 and subsequently failed to register under the Kansas Offender Registration Act.  When Terrell was convicted of failing to register in 2005, the failure-to-register statute designated the crime as a nonperson felony.  The Kansas Legislature then amended the failure-to-register statute in 2016, changing the classification of the crime to a person felony.  In 2018, Terrell committed an aggravated escape from custody, a felony under Kansas law.  After receiving a copy of his presentence investigation report for the 2018 crime, Terrell discovered that the sentencing court had reclassified his 2005 failure-to-register conviction to a person felony.

Discussion: The Kansas Supreme Court first analyzed the applicability of its decision in State v. Keel to the reclassification of Terrel’s 2005 failure-to-register conviction.  The Kansas Supreme Court concluded that Keel did not apply in Terrell because Keel applies only in cases where a crime predates the Act and does not have an assigned person or nonperson classification.  The Terrell Court held that the Act requires courts to classify all prior convictions as person or nonperson at the time of the most recent crime.  Here, although Terrell’s failure-to-register conviction was a nonperson felony in 2005, the 2016 amendment to the failure-to-register statute controls because his most recent crime occurred after that amendment.  Thus, for sentencing purposes, Terrell’s failure-to-register conviction is now a person felony. 

Key Authorities:

Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 21-6801–6824.

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-4903 (Supp. 2004).

Kan. Stat. Ann. § 22-4903 (Supp. 2016).

State v. Keel, 357 F.3d 251, 269 (Kan. 2015) (holding that when a crime predates the Act and was not classified as a person or nonperson crime, that crime should be classified according to the Act at the time of the most recent crime).

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