WHAT IS THE SPECIAL SENTENCING RULE FOR A CASE OF “UNLAWFUL SEXUAL RELATIONS” AND CAN YOU GET AROUND IT?
Sometimes the black letter law passed by the legislature is unclear. The legislature can’t anticipate every possible fact scenario when they pass a law, so it lay to the courts to interpret the law and give guidance to what it means. This interpretation is called case law. When the court decides a certain meeting to the law it essentially answers a legal question. Lawyers and other courts then can rely on that ruling when they have a similar issue in their case. The following case answers the question above.
State v. Edwards, No. 108,916 2014 WL 5609806 (Kan. Ct. App. 2014)
This case addresses the following issue:
Can the special rule of presumptive imprisonment for unlawful sexual relations be reviewed on appeal?
The issue of jurisdiction is a question of law over which appellate courts may exercise unlimited review. Id. at 4*. In addition, an appellate court has a duty to question jurisdiction on its own initiate, and when the record discloses a lack of jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the appeal. Id. K.S.A. 22-3504(1) provides that Kansas courts have “specific statutory jurisdiction to correct an illegal sentence at any time.” Id. at 4. Whether a sentence is illegal is a question of law over which appellate courts have unlimited review. Id. at 4-*5. K.S.A. 22-3504 states the definition of an illegal sentence as: (1) a sentence imposed by a court without jurisdiction, (2) a sentence that does not conform to the applicable statutory provision, either in the character or the term of punishment authorized; or (3) a sentence that is ambiguous with respect to the time and manner in which it is to be served. Id. at 5. The trial court is to retain jurisdiction over a case until its order becomes final. Id. at 8. A judgment becomes final in a criminal case once the defendant is convicted and sentenced. Id.
In this case, the defendant was charged with rape and aggravated criminal sodomy and received a 125 months’ imprisonment sentence on both counts to run concurrently with 24 months post release supervision. Id. at 1-2. The defendant then filed a motion to challenge the retroactive application of KORA, specifically that it violates the Ex Post Facto Clause of the US Constitution to the trial court. Id. at 2. The trial court held that it lacked jurisdiction to hear his claim, and the defendant subsequently brings this appeal arguing that the trial court did have jurisdiction to hear the motion. Id. The appellant contends that the trial court had jurisdiction to address the merits of his claims as a motion to correct an illegal sentence under K.S.A. 22-3504. Id. The trial court stated it did not have jurisdiction to hear the motion per the Ward, No. 99 CR 1751 ruling which held “the district court does not have jurisdiction to hear or rule on such a constitutional challenge or other motion within a criminal case for which 1) the trial has been completed; and 2) probation has been completed or terminated or a felony sentence of imprisonment has been placed in effect; and 3) appeal rights have expired or been exhausted; and 4) for which the conviction has not been expunged.” Id. at 6 (emphasis added). The appellate court specifically noted rulings which have held that the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act does not give a trial court continuing jurisdiction after a sentencing proceeding is concluded. Id. at 8. In addition, the appellate court found that “[w]hen a lawful sentence has been imposed under the sentencing guidelines, the sentencing court loses subject matter jurisdiction to modify that sentence except to correct arithmetic or clerical errors under K.S.A. 2013 Supp. 21-6820(i).” Id. The court concluded that a criminal court does not have the authority to relieve a registrant of their obligation to register. Id. at 9. Ultimately, the court dismissed the appeal for a lack of jurisdiction. Id. at *12.