Appeal from Sedgwick district court, PAUL W. CLARK, judge.
1. A sentence imposed without jurisdiction is an illegal sentence.
2. A judgment rendered without jurisdiction may be attacked at any time and may be vacated because it is a nullity.
3. The issue of whether a criminal sentence is illegal is a question of law. Appellate review of questions of law is unlimited.
4. The jurisdiction of the district court over juvenile offenders in 1995 was based solely upon compliance with the provisions of the Kansas Juvenile Offenders Code, K.S.A. 38-1601 et seq. (Furse 1993).
5. When statutory language is plain and unambiguous, there is no need to resort to statutory construction. An appellate court merely interprets the language as it appears; it is not free to speculate and cannot read into the statute language not readily found there.
6. When construing statutes and determining legislative intent, several provisions of an act or acts, in pari materia, must be construed together with a view of reconciling and bringing them into workable harmony if possible.
7. Under the facts of the case, where an individual was convicted as an adult for crimes which occurred when he was only 17, we hold that the State's total failure to commence juvenile proceedings before seeking adult criminal prosecution resulted in a lack of the district court jurisdiction to try the case.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nuss, J.
Convictions reversed and sentences vacated.
Terral A. Breedlove argues that the district court lacked jurisdiction because the felony murder and other adult crimes for which he was convicted and imprisoned were committed when he was a juvenile. As a result, he demands that we reverse the district court's denial of his motion to correct illegal sentence. Breedlove further demands that we affirm his convictions, but vacate his sentences and remand for resentencing under the Kansas Juvenile Offenders Code, K.S.A. 38-1601 et seq. (Furse 1993). He is currently 30 years old.
The sole issue on appeal is whether the district court had jurisdiction. We hold that it did not; accordingly, we reverse Breedlove's convictions and vacate his sentences.
The facts, and resultant argument, are best understood when presented in the following chronology:
August 12, 1995: Breedlove committed the crimes of first-degree felony murder, K.S.A. 21-3401(b), aggravated robbery, K.S.A. 21-3427, and four counts of aggravated assault, K.S.A. 21-3410(a) (First Crimes). He was 17 years, 9 months old at the time.
September 3, 1995: Breedlove committed the crimes of aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, K.S.A. 21-3411, and criminal use of a weapon, K.S.A. 1995 Supp. 21-4201 (Second Crimes). Later that month he was charged in the juvenile department of the Sedgwick County District Court (juvenile court).
September 22, 1995: After consideration of Breedlove's stipulation to the State's motion for adult prosecution and other evidence, the juvenile court authorized him to be prosecuted as an adult for the Second Crimes and all future acts. Accordingly, these offenses were dismissed from the juvenile court; he was then charged as an adult for these offenses in district court.
November 15, 1995: Breedlove turned 18, i.e., he became an adult under Kansas law.
January 9, 1996: Breedlove pled guilty to the Second Crimes: aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and criminal use of a weapon. He was then sentenced to prison, i.e., as an adult.
June 26, 1997: Breedlove was charged with the First Crimes: felony murder, aggravated robbery, and four counts of aggravated assault. Although these crimes were committed while he was 17, perhaps because he was 19 at the time of charging, the case was filed in district court, rather than juvenile court, with a subsequent order authorizing adult prosecution as ...