For Immediate Release
Jan. 20, 2017
Several inquiries have come to our office regarding changes in Missouri law, effective in 2017, that might make it more likely that students involved in school fights would be charged by a prosecutor with felony assault.
First, there is no change in the law that would make that more likely. No additional pathways are created that would result in more juveniles in school fights being prosecuted for felonies.
Most school-age children, those under the age of 17, are under the jurisdiction of the Family Court. While certification of juveniles to stand trial in adult court does occur, it is still fairly rare. If they are certified, they almost certainly have been accused of an extremely violent act. The average school fight will not qualify.
Finally, I can assure you that my office will use its broad discretion in pursuing felony cases against young offenders. We’ve demonstrated an ability to use such discretion. Under Missouri law before 2017, a suspect in a school fight could have been charged with a felony.
We are not interested in saddling a young offender with a felony conviction if we believe justice can be served in other ways. Our county has a long tradition of diversion for drug and other low-level cases, and I would prefer to see these young offenders get help, rather than burdening them with a felony conviction.
For more information, contact:
Director of Communication
Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office
Jean Peters Baker, Prosecutor
Work : (816) 881-3812
Mobile: (816) 674-3954