When Can a Juvenile Be Tried as an Adult in Kansas?
In Kansas, minors under the age of 18 are prosecuted in juvenile court in most cases. However, it is also possible for minors to be prosecuted as adults. As explained in the instructions to the Kansas Judicial Council’s Motion to Authorize Prosecution as an Adult:
“[Section 38-2347(a)(1) of the Kansas Statutes] provides that the prosecutor may file a motion requesting that the court authorize prosecution of a juvenile as an adult . . . . The juvenile is presumed to be a juvenile and the presumption must be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence. If, after hearing, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence, that the juvenile should be prosecuted as an adult, then the court shall direct that the juvenile be prosecuted under the applicable criminal statute and that the juvenile proceedings be dismissed.”
As a juvenile, facing prosecution as an adult in criminal court raises the stakes of your case significantly. While juvenile proceedings generally focus on rehabilitation and you can seek to have your juvenile record expunged after two years (in most cases), a criminal conviction can mean huge fines and jail time, and a conviction could stay on your record for five years or longer. As a result, if prosecutors are seeking to try you as an adult, it is important that you speak with an Olathe juvenile attorney immediately about fighting to prevent your case from being transferred to criminal court.
The Presumption that Juveniles Should Not Be Tried as Adults Does Not Always Apply
When prosecutors file a motion to try a juvenile as an adult, the general rule is that it is still presumed the juvenile should be tried in juvenile court. As discussed in greater detail below, it is up to the prosecutors who file the motion to demonstrate that this presumption has been overcome. However, this presumption does not apply in all cases. Specifically, Section 38-2347(a)(2) of the Kansas Statutes states that, “[t]he alleged juvenile offender shall be presumed to be an adult,” if:
- The juvenile was 14, 15, 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the alleged offense, and the alleged offense constitutes an off-grid crime, a person felony, or a non-drug severity level 1 through 6 felony;
- The juvenile was 14, 15, 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the alleged offense, and the alleged offense constitutes a drug severity level 1, 2, 3 or 4 felony;
- The juvenile was 14, 15, 16 or 17 years of age at the time of the alleged offense and the offense was committed while in possession of a firearm; or,
- The juvenile is facing a felony-level charge and has a prior conviction or adjudication of delinquency for a felony-level offense.
In cases in which juveniles are presumed to be adults, “the burden is on the juvenile to rebut the presumption by a preponderance of the evidence.”
If the Presumption in Favor of Juvenile Prosecution Applies, the Prosecutor’s Office Must Show “Good Cause” for Adult Criminal Prosecution
If it is presumed that you should be prosecuted as a juvenile under Section 38-2347(a)(1), then prosecutors must show “good cause” for prosecuting you as an adult. This means that adult prosecution is not automatic, and it also means that you have the opportunity to fight to keep your case in juvenile court. However, in order to fight adult prosecution, you will need to hire a defense lawyer to challenge the prosecution’s motion, and you will want to speak with a lawyer right away.
Schedule an Appointment with Olathe Juvenile Attorney Jerry Merrill
If you or your child is at risk for being prosecuted as an adult in Kansas, Olathe juvenile attorney Jerry Merrill can help. To schedule a free and confidential consultation as soon as possible, call 913-381-2085 or request an appointment online now.