WHAT IS THE KANSAS OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT?
The Kansas Offender Registration Act (“KORA”) is a criminal law. Certain offenses result in the defendant being classified as an “offender” under this law, meaning those individuals will have various obligations that they must meet. Failure to follow the requirements results in new criminal charges against the defendant. Below is a brief overview of who KORA applies to, what these individuals must do, and the consequences for failing to do so.
Who Is An “Offender” Under KORA?Section 22-4902 outlines the five basic types of offenders KORA covers. The first and most well-known are sex offenders—individuals convicted of a crime involving some element of sexual desire. The second type of offenders are violent offenders. These individuals have been convicted of a violent crime, such as murder, kidnapping, or manslaughter. This category also includes offenders that are convicted of a felony involving the use of a deadly weapon. The third type are drug offenders. Defendant convicted of possession or intention to manufacture methamphetamines fall into this category. Not included in this category are simple possessions of other controlled substances, such as marijuana or cocaine. The fourth category is out-of-state offenders, covering any person required to register as any type of offender in a state outside of Kansas. The final type is court-ordered offenders. These individuals may be convicted of any crime and the sentencing judge determines monitoring via registration is appropriate.
What Does KORA Require Offenders To Do?The basic underlying idea behind KORA is that those falling into its various categories of offenders must provide notice to local law enforcement about their presence. Section 22-4905 outlines the baseline for reporting. It requires offenders to register with the police department where he or she lives each quarter. Violent and drug offenders may be allowed to perform one of these registrations via mail, while all other offenders must perform each registration in person. In addition to the quarterly reports, other activities may require notification to local police. These include moving, changing jobs, or attending college. Generally, the individual only has three days to notify law enforcement of such changes. These reporting requirements generally last 15 years, but are dependent on the underlying conviction. Additionally, any violations or other convictions also are considered in determining duration. Periods of 25 years or even life may ultimately be imposed.
What Happens When Offenders Violate KORA?KORA is a criminal statute, meaning violations of reporting obligations can result in jail time. An individual violates KORA by failing to comply with any reporting requirement, including missing reporting deadlines. Noncompliance with KORA is a single violation for the first 30 days. Section 22-4903 allows for a second violation to be charged when noncompliance reaches day 31. If the individual fails to correct the noncompliance for 180 days, the violation increases again in severity to an “aggravated violation.” And if noncompliance continues for another 180 days, a second aggravated violation may be charged against the individual.
When KORA has been violated, the prosecutor brings about a criminal charge against the individual. The State must prove that the individual was an offender under the act and failed to comply with the act. Though these must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt (a high burden), these facts are not difficult to prove and thus convictions are relatively easy to obtain. The individual can be sentenced to jail for the violations if found guilty. Additionally, other negative consequences can result, such as probation or parole violations stemming from violating KORA.
Violations of KORA increase in severity level based on the number of violations. The lower the severity level, the higher the presumptive sentence for the offense will be. Thus, first violations are considered level 6 felonies. When a second violation occurs, the conviction will be treated as severity level 5. Third and beyond violations are treated as level 3 felonies. Aggravated violations will always be treated as a level 3 felony. The underlying criminal conviction that brought the individual under KORA determines if the violation is treated as a person or non-person felony.
KORA highlights the importance of contacting legal counsel, even when initially offered a “good deal” by a prosecutor. Such pleas can have long-lasting effects, including registering under KORA. And failure to follow these requirements preciously can result in multiple violations and new criminal charges. Experienced attorneys know these law and how to comply with them. This kind of experience is essential in avoiding serious consequences and potential jail time, all stemming from a single offense.