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In re J.R.A.

July 6, 2007

IN THE MATTER OF J.R.A.


Appeal from Johnson District Court; BRENDA M. CAMERON, judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. The interpretation of a statute is a question of law over which this court has unlimited review. An appellate court is not bound by the trial court's interpretation.

2. When a statute is plain and unambiguous, appellate courts will neither speculate as to legislative intent nor read a statute so as to add something not readily found in it. The legislature is presumed to have expressed its intent through the language of the statutory scheme it enacted. Legislative intent may best be determined from the plain meaning of the words used in the statute in light of all the experience available to the law-making body. Our construction should neither add to that which is not readily found in the statute, nor read out what, as a matter of ordinary language, is in it.

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

Reversed and remanded with directions.

Before MALONE, P.J., GREEN and MARQUARDT, JJ.

The sole issue presented by this appeal is whether the trial court properly determined that J.R.A. was a chronic offender II for sentencing purposes following a probation violation. To meet the requirement of a chronic offender II under K.S.A. 38-16,129(a)(3)(B)(i), the trial court would have had to classify one of J.R.A.'s felonies as a misdemeanor. J.R.A. contends that the trial court improperly considered J.R.A's prior felony in meeting the chronic offender II requirement. The State, however, argues that the State can meet the second prong requirement under K.S.A. 38-16,129(a)(3)(B)(i) of two prior misdemeanor adjudications with one prior misdemeanor adjudication and with one prior felony adjudication. Nevertheless, the clear statutory language of K.S.A. 38-16,129(a)(3)(B)(i) requires two prior misdemeanor adjudications. In essence, the State wants us to rewrite the plain language of the statute and add an unstated statutory requirement (one prior misdemeanor adjudication and one prior felony adjudication) to the clear text of the statute. This we cannot do. The clear text of K.S.A. 38-16,129(a)(3)(B)(i) requires two prior misdemeanor adjudications. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for resentencing.

On January 24, 2006, J.R.A. was adjudicated in Johnson County, Kansas, of consumption of liquor by a minor in Case No. 05-JV-2296 and of burglary of a motor vehicle in Case No. 05-JV-2775. As a result of these adjudications, J.R.A. was placed on a 12-month community corrections supervised probation.

On August 2, 2006, J.R.A. was adjudicated in Miami County, Kansas, of attempted residential burglary. After the Miami County adjudication, the State moved to revoke J.R.A.'s probation in his Johnson County cases. At the hearing on the motion to revoke probation, J.R.A. stipulated that he had violated the terms of his probation. The trial court revoked his probation. With regard to J.R.A.'s criminal history, the trial court determined that he had three adjudications: (1) consumption of alcoholic liquor by a minor, a class C non-person misdemeanor on January 24, 2006; (2) burglary of a vehicle, a level 9 non-person felony on January 24, 2006; and (3) attempted burglary, a level 9 nonperson felony, from the Miami County case on August 2, 2006. Based on those adjudications, the trial court classified J.R.A. as a "chronic offender II, escalating felon" on the juvenile matrix and sentenced him to 12 months' custody and 12 months of aftercare.

J.R.A. objected to his placement as a "chronic offender II, escalating felon" and later moved to modify his sentence. The trial court denied the motion to modify sentence after finding that the placement on the juvenile matrix was appropriate.

Did the Trial Court Err in Classifying J.R.A. as a "Chronic Offender II, Escalating Felon" on the Juvenile Matrix?

On appeal, J.R.A. argues that his sentence is improper because the trial court improperly classified him as a "chronic offender II, escalating felon" on the juvenile matrix. Resolution of this issue requires an interpretation of the juvenile sentencing statutes. "The interpretation of a statute is a question of law over which this court has unlimited review. An appellate court is not bound by the trial court's interpretation. [Citation omitted.]" State v. Bryan, 281 Kan. 157, 159, 130 P.3d 85 (2006).

In Kansas, we follow the plain meaning rule that states that if a statute is clear and unambiguous, the statute should be construed according to its plain and ordinary meaning:

"When a statute is plain and unambiguous, appellate courts will neither speculate as to legislative intent nor read a statute so as to add something not readily found in it. State v. Alires, 21 Kan. App. 2d 139, Syl. ¶ 2, 895 P.2d 1267 (1995). The legislature is presumed to have expressed its intent through the language of the statutory scheme it enacted. In re Marriage of Killman, 264 Kan. 33, 42, 955 P.2d 1228 (1998). Legislative intent may best be determined from the plain meaning of the words used in the statute in light of all the experience available to the law-making body. Hulme v. Woleslagel, 208 Kan. 385, 391, 493 P.2d 541 (1972). Our construction should neither add to that which is not readily found in the statute, nor read out what, as a ...


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