Murder Laws in Kansas: Understanding the Different Charges

In Kansas, a defendant can be charged with three different types of murder: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and capital murder. Murder charges in Kansas are the most serious offenses under state law, with maximum sentences up to life in prison or death. 

The circumstances and the defendant’s state of mind play a crucial role in a murder defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney can navigate the complexities of a murder charge, potentially reducing their client’s charges or getting them dropped. 

Jeremy D. Koop, a long-time Kansas attorney who’s been on both sides of the courtroom, can provide a thorough and vigorous defense strategy if you’re facing a murder charge. 

What is first-degree murder?

First-degree murder in Kansas is defined as intentionally killing someone with premeditation or during the commission or attempt to commit an inherently dangerous felony. Inherently dangerous felonies could include crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, child abuse, or fleeing a police officer. 

Generally, a person convicted of first-degree murder in Kansas can be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 50 years if the killing is determined to be premeditated.

As you can see, whether or not a prosecutor can prove if a first-degree murder was premeditated can drastically affect a defendant’s potential prison sentence. This underscores the importance of immediately seeking effective legal counsel if you or a loved one is facing the possibility of a first-degree murder charge.

What is second-degree murder?

Second-degree murder in Kansas is defined as killing a person intentionally or killing them unintentionally but recklessly with “extreme indifference to the value of human life.”

A defendant convicted of second-degree murder could be sentenced between 12 years and 54 years in prison if the court determined the killing was intentional. The possible sentence for someone convicted of unintentional second-degree murder is between nine years and 41 years in prison.

Second-degree murder and manslaughter cases can be similar. Depending on the circumstances of the cases, a skilled defense attorney may be able to lower the charges against their client by arguing the elements of the case don’t fit a murder charge. If successful, this could significantly reduce the amount of time a defendant is sentenced to prison.

Read: Kansas Manslaughter Charges and Key Differences from Murder

What is capital murder?

In Kansas, a person can only be given the death penalty if they’re convicted of premeditated first-degree murder under certain circumstances. These circumstances include:

  • A killing committed under a contract or agreement
  • During a kidnapping 
  • Killing someone while in prison, jail, or official custody
  • During the commission or attempt to commit rape
  • Killing a law enforcement officer
  • Killing a more than one person as part of the same act or connected acts
  • Killing a child under age 14 during the kidnapping or aggravated kidnapping with intent to commit a sex offense

A county or district attorney will determine whether the facts of the case support seeking the death penalty. If the defendant is convicted, a jury must unanimously decide that the defendant should receive the penalty. A judge can modify the death penalty to life in prison without parole if it determines that the sentence isn’t supported by evidence.

The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice; it is for general informational purposes only.

<< Back to Blogs
Contact Now
Privacy PolicyTerms & Conditions
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram