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Changes to juvenile justice system may make prosecution easier

In 2016, Kansas created new legislation that helped low-level juvenile offenders avoid incarceration and divert their cases into the mental health and social services sector in an attempt to improve their life quality. It also helped alleviate the over-loaded juvenile criminal justice system by reducing case load. However, new amendments have been brought before the legislature that may return some cases to the court system.

Not all misdemeanors will be diverted for intervention

The 2016 law stipulated that a minor charged with a misdemeanor, no matter its nature, would have to be offered intervention services and probation instead of entering the justice system. This allowed some sex offenders, and youths associated with weapons and violence charges, to avoid severe punishment. But it failed to provide real justice and protection for victims.

The new amendments will stipulate that if a juvenile is charged with a felony or a sex crime, they will not be automatically offered intervention if they plead down to a misdemeanor. That will only be offered at the discretion of the prosecuting attorney.

Repeat offenders will be tracked

Another weakness of the original legislation basically wiped the minor's slate clear after each intervention, even if the youth failed to complete the requirements of the probation. The proposed updates will create new databases that track those who fail to meet their probation and those who are charged multiple times under the statute. This would allow prosecuting attorneys greater leeway in forming charges with the intention of upping sentences.

Reaching out for help immediately is more important than ever

If your child was arrested for any reason, it's important to act immediately and contact an attorney experienced in the juvenile justice system to ensure that your child's rights and freedoms are protected. Legislation remains in flux, and with new statues and amendments coming and going, it is possible for law enforcement officials and prosecutors to make more mistakes in processing and charging a minor. An attorney will help guide you through the often confusing twists and turns of the juvenile system, ensuring that your family receives the best possible outcome for everybody's future happiness.

Ultimately, there are no free rides

Of course, open communication between you and your children is always crucial. If you are worried that your teen is in danger of committing illegal acts and they respond by stating that they'll just receive intervention, it might help them to know that the laws are changing and there may be stronger punishment if they are charged with a felony or a sex crime, no matter how young they might be.

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