Common Questions when hiring a Criminal Defense Lawyer
How exactly does the sentencing grid work?
What are the different levels of crimes in Kansas?
There are three common groups or levels of offenses that exist in Kansas each group has sub groups.
1. Felony Charges: Felony crimes are the most serious. Felony cases are classified in three groups.
On Grid non-drug felony Offenses
Non-drug felony charges have a specific severity level defined by statute and that corresponds with the severity level in the non drug sentencing grid. Examples of a non-drug felony would be burglary or robbery.
Drug Felony Offenses
Drug felony charges have a specific severity level defined by statute and that corresponds with the severity level in the drug sentencing grid. Examples of a drug felony would be possession of heroin, possession with intent to distribute any drug, or cultivation of marijuana.
Off Grid Felony Offenses
These are non drug felony charges they do not have a specific severity level defined by statute. An example of a non-grid felony would be murder.
2. Misdemeanor Charges: Misdemeanor charges are the "middle of the road" crimes. They are lower level criminal offenses that most people find themselves in at some point in their life. There are four different groups of misdemeanors.
Class A This is the most severe classification of misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail. Examples are Marijuana Possession, Second Time Driving under the influence, second time domestic battery, possession of drug paraphernalia.
Class B This is the second most severe classification of misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in the county jail. Examples are Battery, Driving under the influence, domestic battery or driving on a suspended license first offense.
Class C This is the least severe classification of misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 30 days in the county jail. Examples are Minor in possession of alcohol, disorderly conduct or assault.
Unclassified These are misdemeanors that are not classified as A, B, or C. Each one of these will have its own enumerated punishment in the statute.
3. Infraction Charges: These are not actually "criminal" offenses but they are the most common types of offenses people get charged with. They are offenses with no jail penalty but may still have some negative effect on the offender. Examples of infractions are refusing a preliminary breath test, speeding, or running a red light. These offenses are subject to a financial penalty.
What is a diversion and what does it do?
A diversion agreement is a contract between a defendant in a criminal case and the state's attorney that is prosecuting the defendant for a crime. A diversion agreement is just like any other contract. The defendant will have obligations under the contract and the city or state will have obligations under the contract. Usually, a defendant that enters into a diversion agreement with the state will have to admit guilt and take responsibility for the crime they are charged with, as well as, other obligations they must meet. (pay a fee, take a drug and alcohol class, a theft class, attend counseling, meet with a diversion officer or coordinator, do a domestic violence assessment, et. cetra) The conditions of the diversion agreement and the defendant's obligations under the contract largely depend on the type of crime the person has been charged with. In exchange for the defendant's promise to complete his or her obligations under the contract the state will ask to continue the case for a specific amount of time. Usually the time period the case will get continued will be a year. The state's obligation then kicks in once the defendant has completed all of his or her requirements under the diversion agreement and the time period for the diversion has ended, then the State or City will dismiss the case with prejudice.
A diversion is designed usually for first-time offenders who are accused of lower level crimes. It allows for people to "get a second chance" when they make a mistake and commit a crime. Diversion at times can be a good option but it is not right for everyone.
What are the problems with a diversion?
Diversion isn't for everyone. Many prosecutors will push a diversion on a defendant without representation knowing that the accused person will violate the agreement and set them up to fail. Here are some factors to consider when deciding if diversion is for you.
1. In order to enter into a diversion agreement most state's attorneys will require you to waive nearly all of your rights. Giving up your rights will make it easier for the state to convict you if you violate the terms of the agreement.
2. Diversion can be misleading. It is presented as a way to "keep the crime from going on your record," that is only partially true. If you successfully complete the diversion it will not go on your record as a "conviction," but it may go on your record as a "diversion." Not many people know the difference between the two. If an employer looks up your record and finds a "diversion" they will probably have no idea what a "diversion" is and will hold it against you.
3. Diversion is tough. Most diversion agreements will have conditions including, no drinking alcohol, do using marijuana, no driving unless properly licensed, clearing up all warrants within 30 days, meeting with a diversion officer regularly, being subject to random drug and alcohol tests and paying a hefty diversion fee upfront.
4. If you want your record to be clean you still must expunge a diversion agreement after the statutory period of time has run, just like a conviction.
5. Diversion can still count against you as a conviction in the future if you get into additional trouble, in some cases.
Why should I hire a criminal defense lawyer?
When you have been charged with a crime there is a lot at stake. Your freedom, your job, your criminal record, and your future are all on the line. To a person accused of a crime in Kansas there are stiff penalties for a conviction and you are correct to be worried about your case. A criminal conviction can lend you in jail for a lengthy time, it can cause you to lose your current job or make it difficult to get another job in the future. A criminal record can bar you from certain professions and affect your ability to become licensed with the state for some professions. Some convictions will strip you of your right to carry a firearm and could take away your right to vote. Having a criminal record can have many negative ramifications in your life. To put is short, the stakes really can not get any higher.
Now that you understand the seriousness of your situation, you need to understand why you need help. Just like you would never think of performing surgery on yourself because you don't have specialized medical training. You should never try to handle your criminal case because you don't have specialized legal training.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can guide you through the criminal procedure process and advise you as to your rights and options. When the time comes a criminal defense lawyer can stand up and advocate for you, assert your rights and protect your freedom and good name. Criminal defense work is not only possessing the knowledge necessary to defend an accused person but much more. A criminal defense lawyer needs to know the local rules and procedures in a specific jurisdiction. A criminal defense lawyer needs to establish a reputation as a fierce advocate and knowledgeable professional. A criminal defense lawyer needs to cultivate relationships with opposing attorneys and establish trust with the court and prosecutors. All these things need to be present and much more.
If you need a criminal defense lawyer call 913-732-3014
What does it cost to hire a criminal defense lawyer?
In Kansas, the law requires that a criminal defense lawyer's fees be reasonable. Depending on many factors we do our best to determine a fair attorney's fee.
Here are the things we consider when determining our Attorney's fee:
(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
(2) the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(5) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(6) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services;
What should I consider when hiring a lawyer?
There are many things to consider when hiring a criminal defense lawyer. The first and foremost is to find an attorney that you are comfortable with. When hiring a lawyer it is just like hiring an employee. You don't just hire the first person that applies or submits an application. You need to talk with several and pick the attorney that you fit best with. Secondly, which goes hand in hand with being comfortable with your lawyer, is that you need to hire an attorney that you trust is telling you accurate legal advice.
Criminal defense work is not something you want your attorney to just dabble in. You don't want to hire a divorce lawyer, or a real estate lawyer, that thinks he can help you. You want to hire an attorney that only does criminal defense work. Third, you need an attorney that is going to "give it to you straight," you want an attorney that is going to be able to tell you the bad news with the good news. The worst kind of attorney is one that can not be straight with their client. Lastly, you need an attorney that is interested in your case and is willing to do whatever is necessary to get you the best possible outcome, whether that is advocating for a plea bargain or taking your case to trial.