Archive for September, 2013

What To Do When You Miss a Court Date in Kansas

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

The first thing to do when you miss a court date is to not panic.  Sit down, take a breath and make sure you know when the court date was scheduled for, why you needed to appear in court and why you missed it.  Maybe you forgot, maybe you were out of town, or maybe you didn’t think it would be such a big deal to miss it.  Whatever the reason for missing the court date, you have options available to you in this time of fear, apprehension and uncertainty.

In Kansas, the law varies on what the penalties will be for missing a court date.  The more severe the crime or offense, the more harsh a judge may be on you for missing the court date.  Typically, a warrant is issued for your arrest if you miss a court date, whether it is for a traffic offense or for a misdemeanor or felony offense.  In such a case, you will have to post pond in order to get the warrant resolved.

Once bond is issued, you must immediately contact a Kansas attorney.  An attorney can help you take care of paying or “posting” the bond, then have a new court date scheduled.  Once you have posted bond, you then must go to your scheduled court date and not miss it a second time.  If you miss a second court date, the consequences will be even more severe and a judge will not be so lenient on you.

Many times you will not know if a warrant has been issued for your arrest unless you get pulled over for a traffic offense, or if you search your name online through the state’s court system (and many people do not know how to do this).  Therefore, the single most important thing to do in a situation where you miss a court date is to contact an attorney immediately.  The cost of an attorney may seem like a lot in the short term, but the cost of ignoring a missed court date can have devastating effects in the long run, including hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees, and possibly jail time.

As mentioned above, you need to remember why you missed your court date.  This is important because you may have a legitimate reason that a judge will consider and look at your case more favorably.  For example, maybe you were ill, maybe a family member was ill, maybe your car broke down, or maybe you made an innocent mistake and forgot.  You should keep track of any proof you have that shows you had a legitimate reason for missing your court date, such as a doctor’s note if you were sick and sought medical treatment, a note from an employer, or an invoice from a car repair shop, proving that your car broke down and was towed somewhere.  Any shred of evidence will be extremely helpful for your case, and an experienced attorney needs to have all of this information.

If you have missed a court date, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.  Charles E. Whitman of the Whitman Law Offices has over 35 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, defending individuals who have been charged with all kinds of criminal offenses.  Missing a court date, whether for a minor infraction or a more serious misdemeanor or felony offense, can lead you down a stressful path that only a qualified criminal defense attorney can help you with.  Contact our office today for a free consultation.  You may call us at (785) 843-9460, you may contact us online, or you may contact us in person by scheduling an appointment to meet us at our downtown Lawrence office, conveniently located near the University of Kansas (KU) and Baker University.  We will also visit you in jail or at your home, if necessary.

Furnishing Alcohol to Minors in Kansas: Why It’s Not Worth the Risk

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Handing your underage friend a beer or purchasing alcohol for your nephew may seem to be relatively harmless conduct.  It is often tempting to be the nice guy who buys his barely underage friend a drink, or the cool parent who treats her underage daughter and her daughter’s underage friends to alcohol.  Or, you may be a minor and have taken your parent’s alcohol to give it to your underage friend.  While each of these acts by may seem insignificant to many people, the consequences in Kansas for supplying alcohol to minors can be harsh and life-changing.

In Kansas, furnishing alcohol (this includes simply providing or purchasing) to individuals under the age of 21 is a Class B Misdemeanor with a minimum of a $200 fine and possible jail time of up to 6 months – the same for a first-time DUI conviction.  The law applies equally to both adults providing to minors, and minors providing to minors.  Like with DUI’s, Kansas takes underage drinking very seriously and has set a precedent that the provider of alcohol to minors will be punished just as much as or even more than the underage consumer in possession of the alcohol.

All cases have their slightly different facts that can change the outcome for any given situation.  For example, if you are a parent who has supplied your underage child with alcohol under your supervision, you have committed no crime and this is a complete defense to a charge of furnishing alcohol to a minor in Kansas.  On the other hand, you may be a parent who has hosted a party, providing alcohol to multiple underage consumers, a situation where Kansas courts are more likely to be harsh.

Also, if you are a parent and your child has underage friends over, there’s always the possibility that those friends may consume alcohol in your home, whether you are aware of it or not.  That’s why it is extremely important to understand your rights and duties in Kansas when it comes to underage drinking.  If you wish to allow your child to have a glass of wine, that’s fine, but make sure it is only a family matter without your child’s friends over.

One very important reason why Kansas is especially harsh when it comes to underage drinking charges is because of the thousands of underage college students at the University of Kansas (KU), Baker University, and other surrounding colleges.  If you are a parent with an underage child, whether college-bound or not, or if you are an underage minor yourself, you need to understand that a conviction of furnishing alcohol to a minor is a serious offense that stays on your record, and can be especially harmful to young adults with otherwise bright futures.  For example, students may find it difficult to get a job, to be recruited into the military, or to receive a scholarship—all very important milestones in a young adult’s life.  To ruin a bright future for something so small as handing your underage friend a beer is not worth the consequences.

If you have been charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Kansas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  At Whitman Law Offices, Charles E. Whitman has over 35 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney, helping individuals who have been charged with a variety of offenses, especially in the area of alcohol-related and underage drinking charges.  Contact Charles E. Whitman today for a free consultation to evaluate your case.  You may contact us online, by phone at (785) 843-9460, or you may contact us in person at our downtown Lawrence location.  We are easily accessible from both the University of Kansas (KU) and Baker University.  We will also visit you at home or in jail, if necessary.