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State v. Williams

March 16, 2007

STATE OF KANSAS, APPELLEE,
v.
ALFRED J. WILLIAMS, JR., APPELLANT.



Appeal from Johnson district court; STEPHEN R. TATUM, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. An "illegal sentence" is a sentence: (a) which is imposed by a court without jurisdiction; (b) which does not conform to the statutory provisions, either in the character or the term of the punishment authorized; or (c) which is ambiguous with respect to the time and manner in which it is to be served.

2. A district court has jurisdiction to prosecute a person as an adult for crimes committed while the person was 17 years of age if that person does not fit within the statutory definition of a juvenile offender pursuant to the Kansas Juvenile Justice Code, K.S.A. 38-1601 et seq.

3. Under the facts of this case, the district court had jurisdiction to prosecute the 17-year-old defendant under the criminal code for adults, and the ensuing sentence does not fit the definition of an illegal sentence.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Johnson, J.

Affirmed.

Alfred J. Williams, Jr., appeals the denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence in which he alleged that the district court lacked jurisdiction to convict and sentence him as an adult for crimes committed while he was a juvenile. Specifically, Williams argues that due process did not permit his direct prosecution as an adult. He asserts that the State was required to commence proceedings under the Kansas Juvenile Offenders Code, K.S.A. 38-1601 et seq. (Furse 1993), and effect a waiver hearing in the juvenile proceeding prior to the adult prosecution. Finding that Williams' sentence was not illegal, we affirm.

Williams was 17 years old in September 1995 when he committed crimes which would subsequently result in jury convictions for two counts of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted first-degree murder. Prior to committing those crimes, Williams had been adjudicated as a juvenile offender in 1994 for acts, one of which would have been a felony if he had been an adult. Therefore, the State filed charges against Williams as an adult, accompanied by an affidavit asserting the applicability of K.S.A. 1995 Supp. 38-1602(b)(3).

Williams participated in the proceedings under the Kansas Criminal Procedure Code without challenging the jurisdiction of the district court to prosecute him as an adult. After his convictions, Williams was sentenced to a hard 25 life term of imprisonment. On direct appeal, the first-degree murder convictions were affirmed, although the attempted first-degree murder convictions were remanded for a new trial. State v. Williams, 268 Kan. 1, 19-20, 988 P.2d 722 (1999). Williams did not challenge his adult prosecution in the direct appeal.

Subsequently, Williams filed a motion pursuant to K.S.A. 60-1507, although he did not raise an issue as to the district court's jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's denial of the 60-1507 motion. Williams v. Nelson, No. 89,356, unpublished opinion filed July 3, 2003.

In 2005, Williams filed the pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence which is currently before us. In denying the motion, the district court determined that Williams was not a juvenile offender for purposes of his prosecution for the September 1995 crimes, that the adult criminal court had jurisdiction, and that, therefore, the sentence imposed was not illegal.

STANDARD OF REVIEW, TIMING, AND DEFINITION OF ILLEGAL SENTENCE

On appeal, the parties agree that the issue of whether a criminal sentence is illegal presents a question of law, subject to unlimited review. See State v. Jones, 272 Kan. 674, 677, 35 P.3d 887 (2001). "The court may correct an illegal sentence at any time." K.S.A. 22-3504(1).

An "illegal sentence" is a sentence: (a) which is imposed by a court without jurisdiction; (b) which does not conform to the statutory provisions, either in the character or the term of the punishment authorized; or (c) which is ambiguous with respect to the time and manner in which it is to be served. Jones, 272 Kan. 674, Syl. ΒΆ 1. Here, Williams does not challenge the character or term of his punishment or contend that his sentence is ambiguous as to the time and manner in which it is to be ...


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