Kansas Criminal Cases 3/27/20: Certain Felons Should Not Possess a 4" Folding Knife




On the evening of February 11, 2018, a Wichita police officer stopped Lucas for a traffic infraction. The officer arrested him after a records check revealed an outstanding bench warrant. During the arrest, Lucas' wife arrived at the scene and consented to the officer's search of the Lucases' truck. This search revealed a folding knife in the truck's driver-side door. The knife measured 9 inches when opened (5 1/2 inches when closed) and had a 4- inch blade. At its widest point, the blade was approximately 1 1/4 inches across. Lucas told the officer he used the knife at work. Based on his possession of the knife and a November 2010 felony drug conviction, the State charged Lucas with criminal possession of a weapon by a convicted felon under K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304(a)(2).


1. Statutory interpretation is a legal question over which appellate courts exercise unlimited review. The aim of statutory interpretation is to determine the legislature's intent based on the language it employed. When a statute's text is plain and unambiguous, courts apply that language as written and do not look to canons of construction or legislative history. Courts give common words their common meanings and neither add language to statutes nor delete statutory requirements.

2. The folding knife in this case—which is 9 inches long when unfolded (5 1/2 inches when closed) with a 4-inch blade—is a dangerous or deadly cutting instrument of like character to those listed in K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304(c)(1).


K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304 criminalizes the possession of a weapon by individuals convicted of certain felonies. For purposes of this offense, a weapon is "a firearm or a knife." K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304(c)(2). Although these terms have commonly understood meanings, the statute defines the term "knife" as "a dagger, dirk, switchblade, stiletto, straight-edged razor or any other dangerous or deadly cutting instrument of like character." K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304(c)(1). The sole issue presented in this appeal is whether the folding knife found in the Lucases' truck is a prohibited "knife" under this statutory definition.


The folding knife at issue here could be used as a dangerous or deadly cutting instrument.  It could inflict injury.  It has at least one sharp edge and is capable of being used as a weapon.  Accordingly, it was a dangerous or deadly cutting instrument of like character to those listed in K.S.A. 2017 Supp. 21-6304(c)(1).



1. Postconviction discovery sought by the defendant should be allowed when the defendant shows that it is necessary to protect substantial rights. To get discovery, the defendant must make a good-cause showing by identifying the specific subject matter for discovery and explaining why discovery about those matters is necessary to protect substantial rights.

2. An appellate court reviews the district court's ruling on a request for postconviction discovery only for abuse of discretion.



Held: The evidence was sufficient to convict Gonzalez of felony murder, attempted aggravated robbery, and conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery.


1. To support a conviction for an attempted crime, the evidence must permit a rational fact-finder to find beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant intended to commit the particular crime alleged.

2. To convict a defendant of a specific intent crime on an aiding and abetting theory, that defendant must have the same specific intent to commit the crime as the principal.

3. Convictions for two offenses arising from the same conduct do not violate double jeopardy if each offense requires an element not required by the other.

4. Failure to make a sufficient proffer of excluded evidence precludes appellate review because there is no basis for the appellate court to consider whether the trial court abused its discretion.

5. A three-step process is used under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S. Ct. 1712, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69 (1986), to consider racial discrimination claims over the exercise of peremptory challenges during jury selection. First, the party contesting the strike must make a prima facie showing the other party exercised a peremptory challenge based on race. Second, if the requisite showing is made, the burden shifts to the party exercising the strike to articulate a race-neutral explanation for striking the prospective juror in question. In this second step, the striking party is required only to put forth a facially valid reason for exercising the strike, which does not need to be persuasive or plausible. Third, the trial court must determine whether the objecting party has carried the burden of proving purposeful discrimination. The district court's ruling on a Batson challenge is reviewed for abuse of discretion.