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Appeal forces resentencing of Kansas manslaughter defendant

The losing party in a criminal or civil case has the right to appeal to a higher court. The majority of appeals are filed due to errors in trial procedure or judgment. In an effort to prevent double jeopardy – a person being tried for the same offense twice – defendants are usually the only parties permitted to appeal but there are exceptions.

Kansas prosecutors appealed the sentence handed down to a defendant last November. The man had been ordered to serve a 60-day jail term with subsequent house arrest and probation for charges related to a fatal 2012 auto accident on Kansas 18. Two people, a 31-year-old White City woman and a 32-year-old Ogden man, died when the defendant's truck struck the victims' car head-on.

The defendant was accused of driving drunk on the wrong side of the road through a construction area. The 23-year-old man apparently was returning to Manhattan in the middle of the night after visiting a Junction City club. The ex-Kansas State University student pleaded guilty to DUI and involuntary manslaughter.

In its successful appeal, the state argued the judge used the wrong legal standards for sentencing. As the case was being reviewed by a higher court, the defendant was under house arrest after fulfilling the jail term first imposed upon him. The young man also gave dozens of drunk-driving speeches about the deadly crash, as initially ordered by the judge.

Time served in jail and at home was deducted from the incarceration term during resentencing. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the judge sentenced the defendant to concurrent terms of 41 months behind bars. Three years of probation will follow.

The convicted man may appeal the decision.

Criminal defense attorneys develop strategies to limit consequences for defendants. Appeals are not automatic. However, if there is a chance the action can help a client's case, a defense attorney will suggest the option.

Source: Salina Post, "Kan. man re-sentenced in double fatal construction zone crash," Sep. 01, 2015

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