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Under Kansas law, two primary factors determine the punishment
a convicted felon should be given: the severity level of the crime and the
defendant's criminal history.
In general, the potential punishment an offender faces can be
determined by reference to
The left side of each grid reflects the crime severity level, with severity
level 1 being the most severe and severity level 10 (or severity level 4 on the
drug offense grid) being the least severe. The tops of the grids show criminal
history categories. Convictions of person felonies are considered the most
serious for criminal history purposes. Robbery and rape are examples of person
felonies. Nonperson felonies rank next in seriousness level. Forgery and theft
are examples of nonperson felonies. Misdemeanor convictions are considered the
There are some felony crimes which are not included on the
grids, such as treason, first-degree murder and capital murder. These are called
"off-grid" crimes and the punishments for those crimes are determined by other
laws. There are also a few offenses called "non-grid" crimes which are punished
by incarceration in the county jail rather that in prison. Felony DUI is an
example of a "non-grid" crime. (Misdemeanor offenses also are punished by jail
sentences and by fines.)
At the intersection of each severity level and each criminal
history category is a grid box which contains three numbers. The center number
represents the presumptive number of months an offender should be sentenced to
prison. The other two numbers reflect a number of months the offender can be
sentenced to serve without the judge engaging in what is called "departure"
sentencing. Individuals whose crimes and criminal histories fall into the yellow
non-drug or the orange drug boxes are to be sentenced to a term in prison but
are presumed to be allowed to serve a non-prison sanction instead, such as being
placed on probation or being assigned to a community corrections program.
Individuals whose crimes and criminal histories place them in the blue drug
boxes are presumed to be incarcerated for one of the three alternative sentences
in the grid box. Persons whose crimes and criminal histories place them in the
purple boxes are presumed to be incarcerated but can be given a non-prison
sanction without it being considered a departure sentence.
Anticipatory crimes such as conspiracy, solicitation or
attempt to commit a crime are dealt with a little differently. Anticipatory drug
offenses are punished by a sentence six (6) months less than the presumptive
sentence for the completed crime. Anticipatory nondrug crimes are rated at
severity levels less severe than the completed offense.
By law, judges must impose a sentence shown in the appropriate
grid box unless substantial and compelling reasons exist to depart from the
presumptive sentences. Departures can be durational (a longer or shorter
sentence) or dispositional (prison where probation is presumed or probation
where prison is presumed). There are limits on how far a judge can depart by
increasing a prison sentence but not on decreasing a sentence. Departure
sentences can be appealed to a higher court but sentences that fall within the
presumptive range cannot be appealed.
To the right of the grid boxes are two columns. The first
column shows the number of months an offender is presumed to serve a non-prison
sanction such as probation, depending on the crime severity level. The second
column shows the number of months an offender is to be placed on post-release
supervision after serving a prison sentence, also determined by crime severity
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