In 2006, the Kansas Legislature passed House Bill 2576 — “Jessica’s Law” — which provides significant increases to penalties for sexual offenses involving minors. In fact, a conviction for certain offenses could result in a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole.
My firm, the law office of Paul D. Cramm, Chtd., is exclusively devoted to criminal defense. Contact me, Paul D. Cramm, to schedule a free consultation to discuss any charges, including criminal charges under Jessica’s Law.
Even persons with no criminal history whatsoever could face a sentence of life in prison with no opportunity for parole for a period of 25 years under Jessica’s Law. Essentially, Jessica’s Law provides that anyone over the age of 18 who is convicted of certain listed sex offenses with a minor under the age of 14 will be subject to a sentence of life in prison. Depending on the person’s prior criminal history and the specific nature of the offense, they may be eligible for parole after serving 25 or 40 years, or they may never be eligible for parole. Many subtle and inter-related factors will determine which sentence may ultimately be imposed if convicted under Jessica’s Law.
Prior Convicted Sex Offenders
In Kansas, Jessica’s Law has two subsections that deal with repeat offenders – persons with prior criminal convictions of a sexual nature. People with two or more prior convictions for “any sexually violent crime” fall within the category of “aggravated habitual sex offender.” If convicted of any one of the specific listed sexual offenses, these persons “shall be sentenced to imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.
People with only one prior conviction for a “sexually violent crime” are also subject to a sentence of life in prison if convicted of one of the offenses listed in Jessica’s Law. However, with only one prior conviction for a “sexually violent crime,” these persons are eligible for parole — but not before they have served 40 years of their life sentence.
Even people with no prior history of sexual offenses face significantly greater sentences if convicted of a sex offense under Jessica’s Law. Specifically, someone over the age of 18 who is convicted of one of the listed sexual offenses with a child under age 14 will be sentenced to life in prison, and must serve a minimum sentence of not fewer than 25 years before being eligible for parole.
Comparative Sentencing Risk
In order to fully understand the severe sentencing implications of Jessica’s Law, one must first understand the basic application of the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines. Only by calculating what a person’s potential guideline sentence would have been prior to the enactment of Jessica’s Law does it become clear just how serious these changes are.
Consider an 18-year-old client who is convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a minor in violation of K.S.A. §21-3504. The ‘minor’ was 13 years old at the time of the incident and the ‘operative conduct’ at issue involved touching and fondling as described in subsection (a)(3)(A). Note that it is not necessary to complete the act of intercourse or sodomy to violate this law — mere touching or fondling is sufficient.
If this had happened before July, 2006 — the effective date of Jessica’s Law in Kansas — this client would have committed a Severity Level 3 Offense under the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines. If he had never been in trouble with the law before, he would have occupied Criminal History Category “I” for purposes of sentencing, and he would have faced a potential sentence of 55-61 months in prison, roughly five years.
Under Jessica’s Law, he faces a sentence of life in prison with no opportunity for parole for a period of 25 years. This is reflected in the single sentence at the end of K.S.A. §21-3504 that is noted in bold italic print: “When the offender is 18 years of age or older, aggravated indecent liberties with a child as described in subsection (a)(3) is an off-grid person felony.”
Aggressive and Dedicated Kansas City Criminal Defense Lawyer
I provide aggressive Criminal Defense of all charges in Johnson County, Kansas, Wyandotte County, Kansas, Jackson County, Missouri, and the entire Kansas City Metro Area including DeSoto, Gardner, Lenexa, Leawood, Mission, Merriam, Olathe, Overland Park, Prairie Village, and Shawnee.
Defense of these extremely serious criminal charges requires exhaustive review of every piece of evidence the prosecutor intends to introduce against you at trial. Moreover, your attorney must have better command of the nationally recognized “Finding Words” protocol for the forensic interview of the child sex abuse victim than the clinician who conducted the forensic interview of the complaining witness in your case. Any deviation from the accepted protocol can result in subtle, but very effective “coaching” of the child victim and reinforcement of false allegations. While effective cross-examination of the forensic interviewer can be can challenging, cross-examination of the child victim can be emotionally difficult. Far too many lawyers who purport to provide defense in these difficult cases fail to thoroughly cross-examine the child victim because they are simply uncomfortable with the process or they fear negative reprisal from other for being too “aggressive” with the child witness. This apprehension is a recipe for conviction and incarceration.
“The Importance of Aggressive Sex Related Criminal Defense”.
Do not make any statements or consent to any interviews of any kind. Do not consent to any search or seizure as requested by law enforcement. Do not speak with or try to explain the situation to anyone, whether or not they are law enforcement officers. Exercise your rights and preserve every available factual and legal defense for your lawyer.