Violent Crimes in Kansas and Missouri

Violent crimes are defined as those crimes involving force or the threat of force, or those that involve bodily harm to another.  It is not a precisely defined category, and authorities differ precisely on what may or may not be a “violent” crime.  Some types of offenses can be in more than one category of crime:  for example, aggravated sexual battery is both a sex crime and a violent crime.

Basically, a violent crime is one viewed as violent activity against a person or property that intentionally threatens or inflicts, or attempts to inflict, physical harm. Because of the seriousness of such acts and the potential damages that can result, violent crimes are typically prosecuted very aggressively by state and federal prosecutors.  In addition, alleged victims of violent crimes often have more involvement in the prosecution of these offenses than with other types of criminal offenses.

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Property Crimes


Property crimes are very common, and involve the alleged taking of money or property.  These offenses are generally grouped into the following categories:

Burglary.  Burglary is typically defined as the unlawful entry into almost any structure with the intent to commit any crime inside. No physical breaking and entering is required; the offender may simply trespass through an open door. There need not be any forcible taking of property, like robbery, which is usually classified as a violent crime.  The definition of burglary arises out of state law, and thus, the components of the crime may differ slightly depending on the state. Federal criminal law incorporates the meaning of burglary used by the state that the crime occurred in.  Most states use the same basic definition of burglary:

  1. The unauthorized breaking and entry.  This can be actual breaking, or “constructive” breaking, with no force used.
  2. Into a building or occupied structure.  An abandoned structure generally will not qualify.
  3. With the intent to commit a crime inside.  The crime intended inside the structure need not be stealing; it can be any felony crime.  But the crime needs to be separate from the break-in itself.

Some states further divide burglary into “degrees”, that is, “burglary in the second degree”, etc, depending on the circumstances and on whether a person was in the residence at the time of the intrusion.

Shoplifting.  Generally, shoplifting is composed of two elements: (1) willfully concealing or taking possession of items being offered for sale; and (2) the intent to deprive the items’ rightful owner (typically the store) of possession of the items, without paying for the item. 

Bad Checks.  These charges come about when something of value has been received, in return for which the vendor got a “bounced” check.  These can be a grey area between civil and criminal law, and prosecutors can look to the overall circumstances.  Our experience is that too many of these charges are really civil collection matters, and do not belong in criminal court.  Depending on the situation, some prosecutors look for some higher level of “fraud” in these cases, such as closing the bank account, or if someone has put a stop-payment order on the check.

Theft. This is the taking of something of value from another, with the intent to deprive the owner of rightful possession.

Arson.  This is the willful or malicious burning of property.  It is often seen in conjunction with attempts to commit insurance fraud.  It is a serious felony and is investigated by very trained units.  These cases, while rare, can involve a high level of scientific evidence and expert testimony.

Tampering.  This is the interference in the ownership or possession of the property of another.  It is commonly found in relation to auto cases, or other transportable property.

Property Damage.  Depending on the level of damage caused to the property of another, this can either be a felony or a misdemeanor.  It can happen when someone attempts to degrade, deface, or destroy the property of someone else.

Each of these crimes listed here has specific elements that will differ from state to state. There may also be slight variations on what these offenses are called.  If you or someone you know is facing a charge involving an allegation of a property crime, you need to speak with an experienced attorney without delay.

Read More:  Drug Crimes

Domestic Battery Charges


At Phillips & Thomas LLC, we have conducted many jury trials (in both Kansas and Missouri) on domestic violence cases, from low level misdemeanors all the way up to Class A felonies.  Domestic battery and domestic violence charges are a special subset of the category of battery charges.  Unlike regular battery, domestic battery by definition involves altercations between people who are either intimate with each other, or are close family members.  For this reason, there are special emotional dynamics surrounding these cases that must constantly be kept in mind.  It is not uncommon for the following things to happen:

  • The alleged victim may swing back and forth about whether to cooperate with a prosecution.  He or she may have been the one to call the police in the first place, and may not have anticipated that such a call would result in an arrest.  So, there can often be intense emotions going on that need to be taken into account.
  • The defendant may be unwilling to stop contacting the alleged victim by text, phone, or some other means.  Failing to comply with “no contact” orders from the court can be a serious problem with these cases.  It is important that clients understand that these court orders need to be adhered to very strictly.
  • There may be other friends or family members who insert themselves into the case, by calling the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, attorneys, or other parties.
  • There may be connected or concurrent issues involving divorce, if the case is between spouses.  Domestic battery cases can often come about during the final stages of a failing relationship.
  • There may be connected or concurrent issues involving shared property, or property that one person has taken from another.

An attorney experienced with the nuances of domestic battery cases has seen all of these scenarios, and knows how to handle them.  Let us look in some more detail about how domestic battery charges come about.  Firstly, a battery is labeled “domestic battery” or “domestic violence” when someone allegedly commits the battery on any of the following persons:  boyfriend, lover, friend, child, family member, or appointed legal guardian of someone else.   If there has been an alleged offensive touching, it may result in a battery charge.  Simply calling the police to a residence can be enough to set in motion some serious consequences, and many people do not fully realize this.

Once an arrest has been made for battery constituting domestic violence, there are some key things that you can do in order to protect your rights. Of course you should contact legal counsel to represent you right away.  It may also be useful to document (with photos or through medical treatment records) any harm you may have been subjected to by another person’s conduct.


Do not violate any protective order against you.  Violating a court’s “no contact” order is itself a new criminal charge, and many prosecutors will not hestitate to add another charge to a defendant’s burdens.  Even if the alleged victim contacts you first, you cannot respond.  Your attorney can, on your behalf, seek to modify any court’s “no contact” orders.

There are often improper arrests in domestic battery cases.  This can happen because:

  • Police expect to make an arrest (of one or both people) when they are called about possible domestic violence.  Even if the alleged victim doesn’t want an arrest, they can be done out of “safety concerns” by the police.
  • Parties commonly are excited and agitated when contacted by police, and the police often make snap judgments on who was the “primary aggressor.”

Defenses.  Defendants have all the same defenses in domestic battery cases as they would have in regular battery cases.  It is extremely important to focus on the details of these cases so that the most favorable outcome–including dismissal–can be achieved.

Consent.  This is rare in a domestic battery scenario, but it can happen.  The idea behind this defense is that the alleged victim in the assault or battery charge “consented” to being subject to the physical contact or imminent danger of physical contact.  Essentially, the idea here is that people should be allowed to handle their own relations with each other, without interference from the government.  This defense is commonly found in sexually-related assault or battery cases.

Self Defense.  A person is permitted to use reasonable force when necessary to stop an attack on himself or herself, or when he or she reasonably believes that they are in imminent danger of harm.  The key word here is “reasonably.”  A person may cannot claim to be in fear of imminent bodily harm when an objective, neutral analysis of the situation shows he or she overreacted.  These types of situations are very fact-specific, and each case will be different.  The precise nuances of this general principle vary between Kansas and Missouri, and among many other states.  Often, a key question will be:  what level of force is permitted to repel an assault?  Under what circumstances does self-defense stretch into an offensive attack?

Defense of Others.  The situation here is similar to that of self-defense, but the focus is on the threat to some third party.  This may arise in scenarios where someone uses force to prevent harm not to himself, but to someone else.  And the requirements are generally the same, in that a person using force to protect someone else must have a reasonable belief that that person was about to be subject to imminent harm.  But the laws in Kansas and Missouri will vary on the degree of force permitted.

Insanity or Diminished Capacity.  These are rare.  They involve situations where a defendant may claim his action was not truly “voluntary” within the meaning of the law, in that he or she had some mental defect or was not able to appreciate the nature and consequences of his or her act.

Stating the general legal principles here is only the first step.  Everything depends on the facts of the particular case.  If you or someone you know has been accused of some type of assault or battery, you need an attorney with actual trial experience in this area of the law.  At Phillips & Thomas LLC, our experienced team of trial attorneys has handled these cases in jury trials and bench trials in Kansas and Missouri for many years.  Call us for a free consultation.

Read More:  Assault And Battery Charges 

Disorderly Conduct Charges

Disorderly conduct is a common misdemeanor charge.  It is generally up to the law enforcement officer’s own judgment whether he wants to arrest someone for the charge. Typical disorderly conduct (or disturbing the peace) charges result when the law enforcement officer is angry or frustrated with a situation he has been in where he feels control slipping away.  Fortunately, many of these cases are overreactions on the part of law enforcement.  They can arise during house calls from allegations of domestic abuse, or venues where alcohol may have been consumed and it is late at night, such as entertainment districts (Westport, or KC Power and Light), or at sporting events where large numbers of people are present.

Still, disorderly conduct laws differ significantly among states and municipalities, and the type of conduct covered by these laws and ordinances is quite broad. Broadly speaking, states and municipalities categorize disorderly conduct as any behavior that is likely to cause other people alarm, anger, annoyance, or an increased likelihood to engage in unlawful activity. Fortunately, disorderly conduct (or, in some jurisdictions, “disturbing the peace”) has a defined element of intent to it.  There needs to be some sort of intent to cause the alleged disorderly conduct or disruption.  And in many situations, this knowledge or intent (also called “scienter”) is lacking.

Disorderly Conduct, Disturbing the Peace, and Noise Violations

  • Fighting, tussling, or other allegedly violent behavior in public or private.
  • Excessive noise violations, possibly caused from playing music too loudly, or operating car stereos too loudly.
  • Noise violations.
  • Inciting or provoking a fight, or attempting to provoke a fight using abusive language or offensive gestures.
  • Behavior that attempts to disrupt business or government operations.
  • Refusal to leave some area when ordered by a law enforcement officer.
  • Alleged “mouthing off” or rowdiness to an officer.
  • Engaging in behavior that law enforcement views as as interference in his or her job.
  • Recklessly or willfully handling or displaying a deadly weapon or deadly instrument.

Some states and cities prohibit disorderly conduct in a public area, or conduct that disturbs the public order.  Other cities and states do not require the behavior to occur in public or affect the public. Public areas include such places as public restroom stalls, carnivals, hospital emergency rooms, and even private buildings available for public rental and entertainment. When the conduct occurs in private, it may satisfy the “public requirement” if there is some spillover effect of the private activity into the public domain.  It is not unusual for neighbors or neighborhood members to report each other for this type of violation.  But in many cases there is no public requirement.  In these situations, it is enough if a private person has been “disrupted” in some objectively unreasonable way.

Disorderly conduct crimes are misdemeanors.  For many people, this type of an offense may be their first exposure to the criminal justice system, and the process can be very upsetting and stressful.  If you have been charged with a disorderly conduct, noise violation, or peace disturbance charge, contact our office for a free consultation.

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Defalcation In A Fiduciary Capacity: Bankruptcy Adversary Proceedings Under Sect. 523(a)(4)

Adversary proceedings contesting the dischargeability of debt in a bankruptcy case are rare, but they do happen.  There are various types of nondischargeability actions that a bankruptcy debtor can face under 11 U.S.C. 523.  One of these is an adversary proceeding under Sect. 523(a)(4) for “fraud” or “defalcation” while “acting in a fiduciary capacity.”  This type of action is often brought as an additional count in an adversary petition along with other Section 523 claims, such as claims under 523(a)(2).  They seem to be appearing more often than in the past, as creditors increasingly seek to have commercial debts classfied as “trusts” or “trust fund proceeds.”

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Juvenile Crimes


Juvenile offenses in Kansas and Missouri are a distinct and different category within the field of criminal defense.  Why?

  1. Juvenile crimes are handled in special courts set up in each state county, with procedural and legal rules that can be quite different from adult criminal cases.  In addition, the juvenile justice system has large numbers of social workers, probation officers, and even separate facilities where juveniles are sometimes kept.  The juvenile justice system is truly a parallel and separate system.
  2. Communication between the defense attorney and the accused juvenile presents its own special issues.  In many instances, the juvenile defendant is reluctant to discuss the circumstances that led to criminal charges being filed.  The attorney must have excellent interviewing and communication skills, as well as sensitivity and attention to the mentality of juveniles.
  3. The parents or guardians of the juvenile are additional actors in the process, and must be made aware of the special requirements and conditions of the juvenile justice process.  However, the attorney’s client is the juvenile facing the charge, not a third party family member.  Communication, disclosure, and client management can present unique issues in this situation.  In some circumstances, local rules may restrict the accessibility of certain reports and records.

The penalties and consequences of juvenile cases can be serious, even though technically juveniles are meant to be considered a separate and distinct class from adult criminal defendants.  We believe that every child’s future is worth protecting, and we understand what is at stake in every juvenile criminal case. Parents and juveniles often do not fully appreciate the fact that a juvenile could face a lifetime of missed job opportunities along with financial and social struggles due to a mistake as a teenager.  Many juvenile courts are also overstaffed with court appointed legal counsel or public defenders who may have very large workloads that prohibit the type of personalized attention that a private law firm can offer.

Successful strategies in juvenile cases begin right at the outset of the case with a detailed review of the facts, circumstances, and evidence in the case.  Interviews with the juvenile should focus on the precise events or circumstances that gave rise to the accusation at issue.  In reviewing the legal issues and in discussions with the prosecutor, it is important to demand strict proof of the elements that define the offense in question.  Finding the bright line rules in the criminal statutes and then chipping away at them is vital.  For example, was the youth actually truant from school as many times as the prosecutor claims?  Is there any evidence of this?  Some truancy rules require a certain amount of missed absences, and these cannot be proven, the case collapses.  Juveniles also tend to be subject to peer pressures or act in groups, and this fact can raise issues of culpability or duress.

In rare situations, serious felony offenses can be declined by juvenile court and tried in adult court. A juvenile attorney can fight this process, and try to keep the case in juvenile court.  Most of the constitutional rights that adults have are also provided for juveniles who are accused of a crime. It does happen that law enforcement or school officials will question, interrogate, or violate the legal rights of juveniles, without the knowledge of a parent or guardian.  It is not unheard of for these officials to try to trick minors into revealing incriminating information.  Law enforcement officers are experienced in gamesmanship and misleading both adults and juveniles in order to get people to implicate themselves.  In these situations, it is critical for the juvenile to retain an attorney as quickly as possible.

Read More:  Assault And Battery Accusations

Sex Crimes And Sex Offenses In Kansas City

There are few criminal accusations in today’s society that are more emotionally-charged than an alleged sex offense.  Public misperceptions and stigmas around these cases have been current for many years.  Besides facing criminal penalties, defendants are also facing the prospect of some form of offender registration upon conviction of the underlying crime.

An experienced law firm that has actually tried these cases and handled them at the state and federal level is a requirement in this area of the law.  With our extensive trial experience with sex offenses, we understand the importance of investigations, expert testimony, deposition practice, computer forensics, medical evidence and expert testimony to secure successful outcomes for our clients.

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Drug Crimes In Kansas City


The so-called “war on drugs” has been underway now for decades, and continues in one form or another.  The recent legislative changes towards marijuana legalization in Colorado and some other states is a indication that society is somewhat changing, but there are strong institutional interests that want to keep the drug regulatory schemes in place.

In this climate, it is critical to have an attorney who is aware how to handle a drug case or drug conspiracy case.  Drug cases and drug crimes also present major issues of criminal and civil forfeiture.  Forfeiture is the legal process whereby someone convicted of a drug crime can be made to turn over assets (money or property) to the government.

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Assault And Battery Charges


Both Missouri and Kansas have separate statutory schemes for dealing with the crimes of assault and battery.  Each of these two types of crimes is a separate offense, with a specific legal definition.  For example, under the Kansas Statutes (21-3408), assault is defined as any deliberate act or overt threat that reasonably makes a person fear for his or her safety.

For this type of assault charge, it is important to note that it involves only the “imminent fear” of bodily harm, not necessarily any harm itself.  Battery is a separate crime with its own statute.  It involves an action in which the offensive contact is actually carried out.  In actual practice, it is common for these two separate offenses to be used interchangeably, however regrettable that may be.

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White Collar And Financial Crimes

Overland Park White Collar Crimes Attorney

Overland Park Financial Crimes Attorney

White collar crimes and financial crimes are non-violent offenses generally charged against people working in “office” types (non-manual labor) of jobs, such as corporate officers, employees, and similarly situated individuals.

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