328 East 1st Street N.
Wichita, Kansas 67202

Wichita Criminal Defense Attorney on Juvenile Court: How Is It Different?

Posted: 1/9/2017



All courtrooms have their own systems of rules and regulations. Everyone who appears in the court must follow these rules, so it’s important to become familiar with them. In many ways, the rules of a juvenile court are different from those of an adult court, which means that minors can expect to have a very different experience of appearing in court than an adult would have. The sentences that young people face may also be different from those handed down to adults. If your teenage child or you need to attend a juvenile court, the following information may help you know what to expect.

The Charges

The language used in juvenile courts is not the same as the language used in adult courts. Instead of being called “the defendant,” a person facing charges in a juvenile court is referred to as “the respondent.” The process of being convicted in juvenile court isn’t called a “conviction”; instead, it’s known as an “adjudication.” This language reflects the fact that young people don’t always have the same level of legal responsibility as adults.

The Jury

In the past, juvenile courts in Kansas did not use juries. Instead, a judge would rule on the guilt or innocence of the respondent and give out an appropriate sentence in each case. However, this custom has changed following a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court, which means you now have the right to trial by jury if you appear in a juvenile court. After the jury has made a decision, the judge is responsible for handing out a sentence if found guilty. The judge also presides over the courtroom and guides the jury in making their decision in accordance with the law.

The Sentence

Sentences given out by juvenile courts are often more lenient than adult sentences, although the exact nature of the sentence depends on a wide range of factors. These include the age of the respondent, his or her life experience, mental status, criminal history, and the nature of the charges. In general, judges in juvenile courts give out sentences with the aim of guiding young people and helping them to learn from their mistakes. There is less emphasis on punishment and more on helping the young person to integrate back into society.

Age Restrictions

Young people are treated differently by juvenile courts depending on their age. If your child is aged 13 or under, the police officers need your consent to speak to the child. However, they no longer need this consent after a child has turned 14. In court, judges take the age of the respondent into account when deciding what sentence to give. In the case of some serious crimes, prosecutors can apply to have a young person tried as an adult, which moves the case from a juvenile court to an adult court.


If your child or you face charges in a juvenile court, professional advice from an experienced Wichita criminal defense attorney can help you understand the process. With years of experience representing minors in Wichita, KS, criminal defense attorney Jonathan W. McConnell can give you the legal representation you need. Whether you face a DUI or some other charge, get in touch today for legal help and advice.

Jonathan W. McConnell
328 East 1st Street N.
Wichita, Kansas 67202
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