The stated goal of the Kansas Juvenile Justice Code is to promote public safety, hold juvenile offenders accountable for such juvenile’s behavior and improve the ability of juveniles to live more productively and responsibly in the community. Put simply, this allows the state to prosecute juveniles for crimes with rehabilitative measures as a consequence of adjudication as opposed to prison. However, if attempts at rehabilitation fail, an offender may be sentenced to a juvenile correctional facility.
What people should be aware of is that although a juvenile cannot receive a conviction in this Court (it’s called an adjudication under the code). However, a juvenile adjudication for a crime can remain on a child’s permanent criminal record for life. The difference between adjudication and conviction is virtually in name only. If adjudicated of an offense that requires sex offender registration, a juvenile will still have to register as a sex offender even though they are a minor.
For an older juvenile offender, many District Attorneys will choose to waive a child to adult status or to prosecute them with an Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile Prosecution. Adjudication with EJJP will allow the Court to give a juvenile dual sentences, juvenile and adult. A substantial violation of the juvenile sentence will result in the Court invoking the adult sentence, and this event could involve significant prison time.
The Juvenile Offender Courts have a number of resources available to help a child rehabilitate, and a majority of children who enter into the system do. But every parent should know that a juvenile adjudication can sometimes follow their child forever.
Oftentimes diversion is an option. Most Courts have what’s called immediate intervention or diversion programs for first time offenders. Completion of this program results in the child not being adjudicated of an offense, and there is no criminal record. The statutes have recently changed what felonies are eligible for a diversion program, and many are not. Several juvenile offenses can also be expunged if they meet certain criteria. Expungement of an offense will result in the offense being erased from public record, and may be available in some cases.
Child in Need of Care (CINC) courts are designed to protect child who may be a victim of circumstances like abuse or neglect. Many times in these cases the child is actually placed in state custody, or with a relative while the proceedings are going forward. It is not uncommon for a Court to look for a good alternative (like a grandparent) to relinquish custody of a child to during a CINC case as opposed to placing a child in foster care for some undetermined amount of time. Whatever the case, the goal of this Court is to reintegrate a child into their home. However, in the event that a parent does not put themselves in a position for reintegration, the State may move to terminate the parent’s rights permanently. These cases are very time-sensitive, and a Court will not wait indefinitely for a parent to overcome whatever obstacles are preventing a child returning to the home. A Court is looking for permanency, and if reintegration is not progressing, an alternative must be found. Once a termination of rights occurs and the time for appeal has elapsed, there is very little that can happen to change this result. After termination, however, the Court may need some time to find the alternative permanency for the child, and people seeking to be a placement option or adoptive placement for a child after termination should seek the services of a qualified attorney to help them with the process.
After termination, a party such as a grandparent or foster family may want to adopt the child at this stage. This is a very complicated process, and the help of an attorney is highly recommended in this situation. Grandparents, relatives of the children, and foster families have rights in Chile in Need of Care (CINC) cases, and it is critical you make sure you understand them thoroughly and follow the proper Court procedures to adopt before your time runs out. If you are in this situation as a parent, grandparent, relative, or foster parent to a child, Leiker Law Office, P.A. can help.
Foster parents are a very unique group when utilized in a Child in Need of Care case in Kansas, and their assistance is often paramount to the success of the child. Foster parents are used by the Court for placement in the event that a parent or relative is not available to be awarded temporary custody in a Child in Need of Care case. Once a placement is made with a foster parent, Courts will often look to this resource for information about the child’s welfare that may be helpful in the case. However, due to various circumstances, state agencies may sometimes seek to remove a child from a foster parent prematurely, an action which the foster family may believe may cause trauma or lasting damage to the minor child. Depending on the length of the placement in their home, foster parents may be able to look to the CINC court for relief under this scenario if they believe it is in the interest that the child continues the out-of-home placement with the foster parent. If you are a foster parent in need of assistance working with Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF), KVC Behavioral Healthcare, or the Court, contact Leiker Law Office, P.A. to learn your rights.
Also, in very rare situations, one parent may ask a court to terminate the rights of the other parent, while retaining their own rights as a parent. While legally permissible to ask a court to do this, this is an extreme situation, and a very specific procedure must be followed before the Court will even consider this option.