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When a Kansas juvenile is accused of a crime

Minors accused of criminal offenses generally do not experience the same legal process as adults. As in most states, a Kansas minor reaches legal adulthood, also known as the age of majority, at 18. However, age may not insulate a minor from serious charges or consequences.

The juvenile law system operates separately from adult criminal courts. The focus of juvenile courts is largely rehabilitative. Police officers may opt to release a juvenile following a warning or hold a minor until parents appear.

Police officers can refer cases to prosecutors or court officers, who decide what happens next. Some juveniles are placed in custody until a judge resolves the matter. Judges, rather than juries, make decisions about juvenile criminal cases.

In most instances, juvenile court is reserved for children older than 7. Parents frequently are accountable for criminal activities involving children, 6 and younger. Authorities may decide to dismiss a juvenile case or settle the matter with or without formal criminal charges.

An off-the-record solution may not keep a minor from a court appearance or consequences. An officer or judge may subject the juvenile to a lecture. The official also can impose penalties or requirements like community service, probation, restitution, fines or mandatory counseling.

A decision to file charges requires the minor to appear before a juvenile judge. A judge determines whether the case will be handled within the juvenile justice system or in an adult court. The judge issues "verdicts" for cases that remain in juvenile courts.

Whether Kansas minors face charges depends upon several factors. Among elements considered are evidence, the minor's age and the juvenile's history of legal problems. The seriousness of the alleged crime influences whether the case is heard in an adult court.

Parents should not underestimate the value of legal representation following a minor's arrest. The Law Office of James M. Brun can help minimize the effects of the legal process.

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