Juvenile Justice
What You Need To Know When Your Child Goes To Juvenile Court In Missouri Or Kansas
By Mark Haefner
Aug 3, 2006, 13:59

The juvenile courts in Missouri and Kansas are convoluted and difficult to navigate.  This outline highlights some basic points you need to know about juvenile court in Missouri and Kansas.



-         Goals of the Juvenile Justice System:

o       Kansas Statute 38-1601 states “the primary goal of the juvenile justice (system) 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.”

o       The Missouri statute states the purpose of the Juvenile Justice System is to "facilitate the care, protection and discipline of children."



-         Do Juveniles have the Right to an Attorney?

o       A juvenile charged with a crime in juvenile court is entitled to have the assistance of an attorney at every stage of the proceedings.

§         In Missouri, see Revised Statutes of Missouri 211.059 and Revised Statute of Missouri 211.211

§         In Kansas, see Kansas Statute 38-1606 and Kansas Statute 38-1633

o       If a juvenile appears before any court without an attorney, the court shall inform the juvenile and the juvenile's parents of the right to employ an attorney.

o       Upon failure to retain an attorney, the court MUST appoint an attorney to represent the juvenile. The expense of the appointed attorney may be assessed to the juvenile or parent, or both, as part of the expenses of the case (see Kansas Statute 38-1613)

o       Continuation of Representation.

§         An attorney appointed for a juvenile shall continue to represent the juvenile at all subsequent court hearings, including appellate proceedings, unless relieved by the court upon a showing of good cause or upon transfer of venue.

o       NOTE: If your child is being questioned by the police or has been charged with a crime, you or your child needs to state the following phrase: “I want to cooperate with you officer, but first I must speak with my attorney (and my parents).”



-         Court Records and Hearings:

o       In Missouri, Revised Statute of Missouri 211.321 is the guiding statute.

§         The general public can attend Juvenile Court proceedings when the case is an A or B felony, or if it is a C felony and the juvenile has two unrelated prior adjudicated felonies.

§         The public is to be excluded when the social background is being discussed.

§         Alleged victims can attend hearings, regardless of the crime.

o       In Kansas, Kansas Statute 38-1607 is the guiding statue

§         If the child is at least 14 years old when they committed the offense, the records are open to the public

§         If the child was less than 14 years old when they committed the offense, the case is public record unless the Judge decides that opening the records to the public is not in the best interest of the child

§         Information that would identify alleged victims of sex offenses are not to be open to the public

§         What about the “Social file”?

·        Reports and information received by the court other than the official file shall be privileged and open to inspection only by attorneys for the parties, juvenile intake and assessment workers or upon order of a judge of the district court or an appellate court.

·        The reports shall not be further disclosed by the attorney without approval of the court or by being presented as admissible evidence

§         If the juvenile was at least 16 years old when they committed the offense, the hearings are open to the public

§         If the juvenile was younger than 16 years old when they committed the offense, the hearings are open to the public unless the Judge decides that opening the hearings to the public is not in the best interest of the child (see Kansas Statute 38-1652).




-         What Happens When a Juvenile Is Taken Into Custody?

o       In Missouri, Revised Statute of Missouri 211.131 states that once a child is taken into custody, the parent, legal custodian, or guardian shall be notified as soon as possible

o       Revised Statute of Missouri 211.141 lays out the options for releasing and detaining the child after they have been assessed by the juvenile officer

§         If released to the legal guardian, conditions can be imposed on the child

§         A juvenile can be detained up to 24 hours without a court order

o       The police can also fingerprint and photograph juveniles who are arrested if the offense is a felony (Revised Statute of Missouri 211.151.1).

o       The court may choose to detain the juvenile until the disposition hearing

§         There are several places the child may be detained, and if they have special needs, the court needs to be made aware of it

§         The court cannot place a child in a jail or other adult detention facility pending disposition of a case (Revised Statute of Missouri 211.151.1)

o       In Kansas, Kansas Statute 38-1624 governs the procedure when a juvenile is arrested.

§         “When any law enforcement officer takes an alleged juvenile offender into custody, the juvenile shall be taken without unnecessary delay to an intake and assessment worker if an intake and assessment program exists in the jurisdiction, or before the court for proceedings in accordance with this code or, if the court is not open for the regular conduct of business, to a court services officer, a juvenile intake and assessment worker, a juvenile detention facility or youth residential facility which the court or the commissioner shall have designated. The officer shall not take the juvenile to a juvenile detention facility unless the juvenile meets one or more of the criteria listed in Kansas Statute 38-1640, and amendments thereto.”

o       Kansas Statute 38-1624(d) states that a juvenile that has been taken into custody may be released before a detention hearing by the district attorney’s office or the law enforcement agency that arrested the juvenile, so long as there is not a court order prohibiting such release and they are confident that the child will appear for future hearings

o       The juvenile may also be committed to a secure facility such as a sanction house pursuant to Kansas Statute 38-1632.



-         Detention Hearings:

o       Whenever an alleged juvenile offender is taken into custody and is thereafter taken before the court or to a juvenile detention facility or youth residential facility designated by the court, the juvenile shall not remain detained for more than 48 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays, from the time the initial detention was imposed, unless the court determines after hearing, within the 48-hour period, that further detention is necessary (Kansas Statute 38-1632 in Kansas; Rule 111.06d in Missouri)



-         Informal Case Processing/Adjustment and Immediate Intervention Programs (AKA: Diversion):

o       In Missouri, Rule 113.02b allows for a way for the juvenile to avoid being prosecuted for the alleged crime though Informal Case Processing/Adjustment

§         Informal Adjustment is where the care and treatment of a juvenile is done without formal court action.

§         The juvenile officer will let you know if you are considered a candidate within 30 days of intake disposition

·        This is totally voluntary and the juvenile is permitted to have an attorney present

§         During the informal adjustment conference, the Juvenile Officer will conduct a risk and needs assessment of the child and determine what services are in the best interest of the child and community.

§         The informal adjustment process should last no longer than 6 months, though the court can extend it for an additional 6 months.

§         Once the juvenile has completed the informal adjustment process, an exit interview will be conducted with the child and child’s parent or guardian to notify them of the recommendation to discharge, review services provided, and receive comments and recommendations.

o       Much like Missouri’s “Diversion” program, Kansas Statute 38-1635 states that each county or district attorney in Kansas may adopt a policy and establish guidelines for an immediate intervention program by which a respondent may avoid prosecution as a juvenile offender.

§         Usually only available if this is the juvenile’s first offense.

§         An immediate intervention program may include a stipulation, agreed to by the respondent, the respondent's attorney and the attorney general or county or district attorney, of the facts upon which the charge is based and a provision that if the respondent fails to fulfill the terms of the specific immediate intervention agreement and the immediate intervention proceedings are resumed, the proceedings, including any proceedings on appeal, shall be conducted on the record of the stipulation of facts.

§         The county or district attorney may require the parent or guardian of a juvenile offender to be a part of the immediate intervention program for the juvenile offender.



-         Prosecution of a Juvenile as an Adult:

o       Revised Statute of Missouri. 211.071 allow the Court to try juvenile offenders as adults.

o       The Juvenile Officer is required to file a motion to transfer the juvenile to the Court of General Jurisdiction (Adult Court) whenever it is alleged a juvenile committed a murder, 1st degree, 2nd degree murder, 1st degree assault, forcible rape, forcible sodomy, first degree robbery, distribution of drugs or two or more unrelated felonies.

o       At 12 years old, a juvenile can be tried as an adult in Missouri.

o       The law permits the Judge to give to a juvenile committed to the Division of Youth Services a new specific period of time to be spent at a Division of Youth Services facility.

o       A juvenile who has been certified as an adult and convicted in criminal court will be sent to the Division of Youth Services until they turn 18, at which point they will be sent to the Department of Corrections for the remainder of their sentence.

o       Much like Missouri, Kansas Statute 38-1636 allows the county or district attorney to file a motion requesting that the court authorize prosecution of the respondent as an adult under the applicable criminal statute.

o       Depending on the crime, the burden of proving good cause shifts from the State to the juvenile to rebut the presumption

o       Juveniles may be tried as an adult in Kansas as early as age 10.  Juveniles at least 14 years old might be presumed to be tried as an adult depending on the seriousness of the offense.  Kansas Statute 38-1636.



-         Burden of Proof to Convict a Juvenile:

o       In hearings to determine if a juvenile has committed an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult, the burden of proof to convict is generally beyond a reasonable doubt



-         Sentencing:

o       In Missouri, Revised Statute of Missouri 211.181 is a descriptive statute that discusses sentencing possibilities once the Court determines that the child has violated the law.

o       Revised Statute of Missouri 211.185 allows the court to order restitution against the child and the parents for damaged or loss caused by the underlying offense if the court finds:

§         The parent has failed to exercise reasonable parental discipline or authority to prevent the damage or loss, and

§         The child has caused property damage/loss or has caused personal injury/death

o       Revised Statute of Missouri 211.188 allows the Court to order the juvenile to work for restitution at a rate not to exceed minimum wage

o       In Kansas, Kansas Statute 38-1661 sets out the pre-sentencing and hearing procedures

o       Possible sentences for a juvenile offender in Kansas are laid out in Kansas Statute 38-1663.

o       Kansas Statute 38-1664 calls for the court to assess the needs of the juvenile and community, and allows the Court to place the juvenile offender in the custody of the commissioner (basically, the child will be removed from the parent’s home due to their inability to stop their child from committing crimes).

o       Kansas’s Kansas Statute 38-1668 is a statue that orders parents of the juvenile offender to report any probation violations the juvenile commits, and if they fail to do so, they will be in indirect contempt of court.




-         Costs of the Judicial Process:

o       Revised Statute of Missouri 211.281 states “The costs of the proceedings in any case in the juvenile court may, in the discretion of the court be adjudged against the parents of the child involved or the informing witness as provided in section 211.081, as the case may be, and collected as provided by law. All costs not so collected shall be paid by the county.”

o       Kansas Statute 38-1616 states that the expenses for the care and custody of a juvenile may be paid by the county’s general funds or by the commissioner of juvenile justice.

§         However, the court can order that the commissioner or general fund be paid back from any person is suppose to maintain, care for or support the juvenile

·        AKA: The parents are going to have to pay for it

§         See also Kansas Statute 38-16,127 and Kansas Statute 38-16,128




-         Special Statutes that were created to aid children with mental health issues:

o       In Missouri, the Court cannot place a child in a mental health facility for more than 30 days except as provided for in sections Revised Statute of Missouri 211.201 to 211.207.

§         Revised Statute of Missouri 211.201 states that a juvenile court loses jurisdiction of a child committed to the department of mental health unless the court expressly retains jurisdiction of the child.

§         Revised Statute of Missouri 211.202 provides for the court to have the child evaluated if it appears that the child is suffering from a mental disorder other than mental retardation or developmentally disabled, and the department mental health shall evaluate the child within 20 days to see if the child should be admitted for inpatient treatment.

·        If admitted, the court needs to review the placement at a minimum of once per year.

§         Revised Statute of Missouri 211.203 outlines the procedures for when the child is mentally retarded or developmentally disabled, and will automatically be evaluated by the Department of Mental Health for inpatient treatment.

§         Revised Statute of Missouri 211.206 states that when a child is admitted for inpatient treatment, they shall have an individualized treatment/habilitation plan that should be reviewed every 30 days.  Treatment plans will be sent to the committing juvenile court.

§         Revised Statute of Missouri 211.207 states that if a child committed to the division of youth services subsequently appears to have a mental disorder, they shall be evaluated by the Department of Mental Health to see if inpatient treatment is needed.

o       Kansas also has several statues pertaining to the special health needs of juvenile offenders.

§         Kansas Statute 38-1614(b) states that if they are aware that a child is suffering from a mental illness, the district attorney needs to know that information, and the Court can authorize that the juvenile seek voluntary admission to a treatment facility.

·        The application to determine whether the juvenile is a mentally ill person may be filed in the same proceedings as the petition alleging the juvenile, and the Court may enter an order staying the proceedings until after treatment of the juvenile.

§         Kansas Statute 38-1662 allows for an evaluation of development or needs from three separate areas: Psychological/Emotional, Medical, and Educational.

·        Psychological/Emotional: The juvenile offender may be referred to a mental health center or qualified professional for an evaluation.  If the parent of the juvenile wants to obtain an independent evaluation, they can do so at their own expense.

·        Medical: The Court can order an examination of the child for medical needs, and can also order a report form any physician who has been treating the juvenile.

·        Educational: The Court may order an educational evaluation to assess the juvenile’s needs






Arraignment Hearing - A youth is brought before a Judge. The youth has an opportunity to plead guilty or innocent. If the youth pleads guilty, the Judge can sentence the youth at this time. In Missouri, the Judge can also assign a Deputy Juvenile Officer to do a social history and have a Disposition hearing 30 days later.

Adjudication Hearing - Evidence is heard. The Court finds the petition true or false. If the Court attaches jurisdiction, the Judge can sentence a youth then.  In Missouri, the Judge can also assign a Deputy Juvenile Officer to do a social history and have a Disposition hearing 30 days later.

Admission - Voluntary acknowledgment that certain facts are true. A statement by the youth admitting to certain facts.

Arraignment - An initial step in a delinquency case. The youth, parents, and attorney appear before the Court and are informed of rights and the youth has the opportunity to admit or deny the petition. If the youth denies, the case is set for an adjudicatory trial.

Certification Hearing - A juvenile who commits a serious offense may be certified as an adult. The decision is based on the seriousness of the offense, prior court record, mental capacity and other information.

Complaint - In Juvenile Court, a written list of alleged behavior that is harmful to the youth or others.

Defense Attorney - A lawyer hired or appointed to represent the youth.

Delinquency - Any act committed by a youth, which if he were an adult would be considered a criminal act.

Deputy Juvenile Officer (DJO) - A court worker who supervises youth under the Court's jurisdiction in Missouri.

Detention - A locked facility where youth are placed by the Court to await a court hearing or permanent placement.

Dismissal Without Prejudice - Permits the Juvenile Officer/District Attorney’s office to bring the case to court again.

Dismissal With Prejudice - The Juvenile Officer/District Attorney’s office is not permitted to bring the case to court again.

Dispositional Hearing - A court proceeding in which the Court decides what type of treatment is appropriate for the youth.

Home Detention/House Arrest - An order of the Court placing the youth at home instead of detention while awaiting a court hearing.

Informal Adjustments/Diversion - A youth admits he did commit the offense and agrees to follow the Deputy Juvenile Officer/Probation Officer's instructions for a set period of time (up to six months in Missouri). This admission takes place at the Case Assessment Interview in Missouri (no court), and on a plea docket in Kansas (in court).

Petition - A court document that states behavior of the youth is alleged to have committed which the Juvenile/Probation Officer needs to prove to the Court.

Restitution - The Juvenile Court has the authority to order restitution to crime victims. Restitution is based on the juvenile's ability to pay. Crime victims should talk with the Juvenile/Probation Officer that is handling the case to learn that particular court's policy on restitution. The Court can order the parent to pay only at a hearing where it is determined that the parent should pay.  In Missouri, it cannot be more than $4,000.00. Victims can take the parent and juvenile to small claims court if the amount is not paid.

Subpoena - An official court order commanding a witness to produce documents or to testify in a court hearing or both.

Testify - To give evidence as a witness under oath before the court.

Trial - A process used to determine if the juvenile did commit an act. The judge hears testimony from witnesses, reviews the evidence, and then decides if the youth did or did not commit the act alleged in the petition.

Victim Impact Statement - A written paper that is given to the court at dispositional hearing the physical, psychological and economical effects the crime has had on the victim and family.






To reach Mark Haefner, call (913) 438-4636

 or send e-mail to


To learn more about juvenile court, click here.


Visit our home page at .



The information on this site is only for general educational purposes, and not for legal advice. Laws change, and their application may vary significantly depending on your circumstances. If you need legal advice, you must consult an attorney.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.


© 2006 Scott Wasserman & Associates, LLC