Under What Circumstances Can a Child Be Tried as an Adult? | Violent Crimes Lawyer, Wichita

Violent Crimes Lawyer in Wichita


In Kansas, like in many other states, individuals under the age of 18 are regularly prosecuted in juvenile court. However, there are always exceptions that may cause minors to be prosecuted as adults. Because facing criminal prosecution as an adult can significantly amplify the stakes of your court case, it’s important to understand what circumstances can cause a minor to be tried as an adult and how this can impact the outcome of your case. Jonathan W. McConnell, our founding violent crimes lawyer in Wichita at the McConnell Law Firm, has a proven track record of defending clients with violent criminal charges and is answering the question we’ve all been asking. Keep reading to learn more!


Understanding the Kansas Juvenile Justice System

The juvenile justice system in Kansas operates under the principle of rehabilitation over punishment for minors who commit offenses. However, there are instances when the severity of the crime or other factors may lead to a juvenile being tried as an adult. While prosecutors can file a Motion to Authorize Prosecution as an Adult, it is still presumed that a juvenile should be tried in juvenile court unless prosecutors can clearly demonstrate this presumption has been overcome.


Criteria for Trying a Child as an Adult:

The determination of whether a child should be tried as an adult is not solely based on age but also the nature and severity of the offense committed. Serious offenses such as murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated assault, and certain drug-related crimes may warrant consideration for adult prosecution, regardless of the offender’s age. According to Kansas Statute, instances in which a juvenile is automatically presumed an adult include the following:

  • The juvenile was 14, 15, 16, or 17 years of age at the time of the alleged offense, and the alleged offense would constitute an off-grid crime, a person felony, or a non-drug severity level 1 through 6 felony if committed by an adult.
  • 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.
  • The juvenile is facing a felony-level charge and has a prior conviction or adjudication of delinquency for a felony-level offense.

“In Kansas, there’s a statute outlining which offenses can cause a juvenile to be tried as an adult, most of which are violent offenses,” said Jonathan W. McConnell, founding violent crimes lawyer at the McConnell Law Firm. “For a child to be tried as an adult, a prosecutor has to file a motion for adult prosecution in juvenile court and argue why the statute applies to the case at hand. The judge will then determine whether or not to transfer the case to adult court.”


Penalties Associated With Adult Prosecution

When a child is tried as an adult in Kansas, they face the same legal procedures, potential penalties, and long-term consequences as adult offenders. These consequences may include incarceration in adult correctional facilities, a permanent criminal record, and limited access to education and employment opportunities in the future.

“When representing a juvenile as a defense attorney, there are different rules that apply and different penalties the defendant may be facing,” said McConnell. “More court discretion is given over sentencing, and while the judge cannot technically give a life sentence to a juvenile (there must be parole eligibility at some point), they may provide a ruling that functions as a life sentence.”


Have You Been Accused?

Are you facing adult criminal charges? If you need assistance navigating the juvenile or adult criminal justice system, we encourage you to contact the McConnell Law Firm as soon as possible. While every case is different, and no conclusions should be drawn without first consulting one of our violent crimes lawyers in Wichita about the specifics of your case, it is always in your best interest to have a skilled attorney by your side from the beginning.

Request a Free Consultation

Do you or a loved one need the assistance of a violent crimes lawyer in Wichita? We encourage you to contact the McConnell Law Firm at (316) 243-5903 for a free consultation.

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Under What Circumstances Can a Child Be Tried as an Adult? | Violent Crimes Lawyer, Wichita

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Jonathan W. McConnell and his team have become well-known for their expert knowledge and unmatched tenacity. They have been rated highly by the public and their peers on many prestigious legal directories and professional organizations.