On January 1, 2017, the juvenile offender law in Kansas was amended substantially, and more changes are on the way. Senate Bill 367 and Senate Bill 42 are where to look for these changes. Portions of SB 367 became law on January 1, 2017, and portions will become law in the future. SB 42 is pending.

The purpose of SB 367 is to reduce the number of incarcerated youth and the number of out-of-home placements; to increase mandated diversion (known as “Immediate Intervention Programs” or “IIP”); to shorten supervision periods; and to increase evidence-based practices and collaboration within judicial districts. In 1996-1997, Juvenile Justice Reform (JJR) increased juvenile incarceration to be “tough on crime.” But, in 2015-2017, JJR recognized the detrimental effects of incarceration on youth and moved away from emphasizing custody as a viable sanction for the majority of juvenile offenses. The good news is juvenile detention is now way down!

Effective January 1, 2017, all Kansas districts must have an IIP (diversion), which can either be pre- or post-filing. Additionally, misdemeanor supervision must be for a maximum of 8 months, and juveniles cannot be denied diversion due to an inability to pay costs.

Effective July 1, 2017, SB 367 imposes term and case length limits on juvenile cases and mandates graduated sanctions for technical probation violations before the State can file a probation and diversion revocation motion. A technical violation is not a new law violation, and SB 42 proposes that a technical violation also not include absconders. SB 367 raises the minimum age for adult waiver from 12 to 14 years of age, and there is no longer a presumption of waiver for a particular level of crime or for a prior felony adjudication.

Case limits post sentence must be 12 months on misdemeanors, 15 months for low to moderate risk felons (per YLS score), 18 months for high risk felons (per YLS score), and no limit on off-grid felons and level 1-4 felons. Probation limits must be up to 6 months on low and moderate risk misdemeanors and low risk felons, up to 8 months on high risk misdemeanors and moderate risk felons, and up to 12 months on high risk felons. Under limited circumstances, probation can be extended.

There are many more changes in juvenile law, including a new placement sentencing matrix. The new matrix in SB 42 includes a 6-18 month DOC correctional facility (JCF) sentence for offenses committed with a firearm.

Joseph, Hollander & Craft’s criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience defending juveniles subject to the Juvenile Justice Code and are well-versed regarding SB 367 and SB 42. Our very own Lindsey Erickson sits on the Johnson County Juvenile Corrections Advisory Board. If you or your loved one is facing a juvenile adjudication or investigation of a juvenile offense, contact the experienced defense attorneys at Joseph, Hollander & Craft. With attorneys in Wichita (316-262-939), Topeka (785-234-3272), Lawrence (785-856-0143), and Overland Park (913-948-9490), we serve clients from the Oklahoma border to the Kansas City area.