Johnson County Juvenile Lawyer For Juvenile Drug Possession Cases and More
For juveniles in Kansas, getting arrested and being charged with a juvenile offense can be a life-altering experience. While juveniles do not face the same punishments as adults (except when prosecutors seek to try them as adults), being found guilty of a crime as a minor can lead to detention, and it can make getting into college and finding a job in the future much more difficult as well. As a result, when facing charges, it is extremely important to have an experienced juvenile lawyer on your side.
Jerry Merrill is a juvenile lawyer who previously prosecuted juvenile cases at the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office. He has successfully represented juveniles charged with all types of offenses – from misdemeanors to murder – and he is passionate about protecting his clients. If your child is facing juvenile charges, Jerry can help, and we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free case evaluation.
Juvenile Lawyer for Minors Charged with Drug Offenses in Kansas
Many juvenile cases involve drug-related offenses. While it may seem acceptable and even expected for young people to experiment with drugs in popular media, in reality, juvenile drug use is no laughing matter. The state of Kansas takes all drug use by teenagers very seriously, and prosecutes juvenile drug crimes aggressively.
Therefore, if your child has been charged with drug possession or some other drug crime, you need experienced legal help to protect his or her rights and future. Jerry Merrill defends teenagers accused of serious drug crimes involving:
- Prescription drugs (OxyContin, Adderall, Vicodin, etc.)
Not all teen drug crimes involve actually buying or selling controlled substances. Possession or being in the wrong place at the wrong time can also be problematic. No matter the offense, be sure to consult with a Johnson County juvenile lawyer to make sure you understand the charges at hand.
Juvenile Lawyer for Minors Charged with Other Types of Juvenile Offenses
In addition to representing minors charged with drug crimes, Jerry is experienced in representing minors charged with all other types of juvenile offenses as well. Just like drug offenses, these other offenses can carry substantial penalties, and they can have consequences that last long after the juvenile’s sentence has been served. Other types of juvenile cases Jerry handles include:
- Gang violence and other gang-related offenses
- Shoplifting and other theft crimes
- Robbery and burglary
- Check and credit card fraud
- Possession of stolen property
- Identity theft
- Sexual battery and aggravated sexual battery
- Assault, battery and other violent offenses
With a reputation as an aggressive trial lawyer, Jerry will work to obtain the best possible outcome for your child, whether in negotiating with prosecutors or in defending his or her case in juvenile court. Unlike other states, Kansas allows juvenile jury trials, and Jerry Merrill is one of the few attorneys in Johnson County who has experience representing juveniles before a jury.
Understanding the Penalties for Juvenile Offenses in Kansas
The juvenile justice system and the criminal justice system are entirely separate, and they involve different rules, different procedures and different penalties. For example, in juvenile court, a minor is not “convicted,” but instead is “adjudicated delinquent.” Once a judge in juvenile court makes an adjudication of delinquency, the judge will then impose a sentence that is intended not solely as punishment, but also as a means of helping the juvenile learn from his or her mistake and get back on the right track.
Potential sentences in Kansas juvenile delinquency cases include:
- House arrest with electronic monitoring (an ankle bracelet)
- Standard probation (with requirements such as a curfew, drug testing, anger management courses, counseling and maintaining a “C” average in school)
- Intensive supervised probation (with more-frequently reporting, closer supervision and an earlier curfew)
- Department of Corrections (DOC) custody (placement in a group home or foster home)
- Direct commitment (detention in the Kansas Juvenile Correctional Complex in Topeka
- Sanctioned house commitment (a short term of direct commitment followed by probation)
In addition to these penalties, an adjudication of delinquency can have other consequences as well—and these consequences can potentially impact the rest of your child’s life. As a result, it is crucial to assert an effective defense in court; and, if your child is adjudicated delinquent, it is important to understand the consequences and the options that are available.
Juvenile Convictions May Be Used In Adult Sentencing
In Kansas, judges are permitted to use juvenile convictions in sentencing decisions for adult crimes. For this reason, a teenager should not plead guilty to even the most minor of drug possession charges, assuming that the case will be sealed once he or she reaches 18. There are many alternatives in juvenile sentencing that can be pursued by a skilled juvenile defense attorney like Jerry to avoid the establishment of a criminal record.
Let a Johnson County Juvenile Lawyer Help with Your Expungement
Many juveniles have brushes with the law. Offenses such as underage drinking, drug use or assault can have lasting consequences beyond the immediate penalties. For some, juvenile court records can come back to haunt them years later.
Most people assume that juvenile criminal records are automatically shielded from public view. However, in Kansas, it’s more complicated than that. The only way to truly put your past behind you is to request an expungement.
Who Can Qualify?
Generally speaking, to qualify for expungement, you must show that:
- You’re at least 23 years old, or at least two years have passed since you completed your sentence
- You haven’t committed any crimes since then (other than minor traffic offenses)
- Your circumstances and behavior warrant expungement
- You weren’t convicted of an offense that’s ineligible for expungement (such as murder, rape and certain other serious offenses)
Requesting expungement requires filing a petition in the right court. If you’re under age 18, your parent or guardian must apply on your behalf. The process can take up to several months from start to finish.
The Advantage of Getting Your Child’s Records Expunged
There are many reasons to pursue expungement:
- Your juvenile record will be essentially erased (except for extremely limited purposes)
- The record won’t show up on background checks for jobs, schools, housing or other opportunities
- You won’t have to answer “yes” on applications asking whether you have any criminal convictions or adjudications
Juvenile offenses don’t have to drag you down for the rest of your life. If you qualify for expungement, you can get a clean slate with the help of a Johnson County juvenile lawyer. For more information on how Jerry Merrill can protect your child’s rights and future, call 913-381-2085 or send him an email. The firm offers free initial consultations to clients throughout Kansas, including Johnson County, Overland Park, Shawnee and Olathe.