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November 22, 2017 Digest

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Updated: Monday, November 27, 2017

Kansas Court of Appeals

CRIMINAL

CRIMES AND PUNISHMENT—SENTENCES—STATUTES
STATE v. FOWLER
SEDGWICK DISTRICT COURT—AFFIRMED
NO. 116,803—NOVEMBER 22, 2017

FACTS: Fowler pled guilty to felony domestic battery, felony possession of methamphetamine, and misdemeanor violation of a protective order. The domestic battery offense was charged as a felony because he had been convicted of domestic battery twice within the past five years. The anticipated presumptive probation for the primary crime of possession of methamphetamine, however, was altered to presumptive prison when the presentence investigation report calculated Fowler’s criminal history by aggregating six prior misdemeanors to two person felonies. To follow spirit of the plea agreement, State joined Fowler’s request for a dispositional departure to probation. District court denied the motion and imposed sentence which included prison term for the primary crime of felony possession of methamphetamine. Fowler appealed, arguing for first time the sentence was illegal because the sentencing court, in violation of K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6810(d)(9) of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines Act (KSGA), “double counted” two of Fowler’s prior person misdemeanor convictions both to enhance the domestic battery conviction from a misdemeanor to a felony and to elevate Fowler’s criminal history.

ISSUE: Sentencing - use of prior misdemeanor domestic battery convictions

HELD: Reasoning in State v. Vontress,  266 Kan. 248 (1998), reaffirmed in State v. Davis, 275 Kan. 107 (2003), was discussed and applied. Fowler was properly charged with felony domestic battery, a non-grid felony. The KSGA sentencing grid is inapplicable to this crime because the crime has its own sentencing scheme with no severity level designation. Felony domestic battery thus cannot be designated as the primary crime for the purpose of applying a criminal history score to calculate a sentence. District court properly designated Fowler’s methamphetamine conviction as the primary crime of conviction for purpose of calculating Fowler’s base sentence, and correctly calculated Fowler’s criminal history score because Fowler’s two prior domestic battery convictions were not used to elevate the classification of the primary crime. 

DISSENT (Malone, J.): Use of Fowler’s two prior domestic battery convictions to calculate his criminal history and to elevate the domestic battery conviction from a misdemeanor to a felony violates the plan language of K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 21-6819(d)(9). Vontress is distinguishable from Fowler’s case. Would vacate Fowler’s sentence and remand for resentencing.  

STATUTES: K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 5414, -5414(a), -5414(b), -5414(b)(3), -6803(d), -6804(a), -6804(c), -6804(i)(1), -6804(i)(3), -6805(a), -6806(c), -6806(d), -6809, -6810, -6810(d)(9), -6811, -6811(a), -6819(b), -6819(b)(2), -6819(b)(3), -6819(b)(5); K.S.A. 21-4710, -4710(d)(11), -4720, 22-3504(1)

Tags:  crimes and punishment  Sedgwick  Sedgwick District  sentences  statutes 

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