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Stevens County Attorney
Paul Kitzke

 

 

Paul Kitzke
Stevens County
Attorney

Street Address 1024 S. Trindle
Hugoton, Ks 67951
Mailing Address P.O. Box 909
Hugoton, Ks 67951
E-Mail Address N/A
Phone Numbers Office: (620) 544-4684
Fax: (620) 544-2403
Business Hours 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
 
Stevens County Counselor
Robert Johnson

 

Robert Johnson
Stevens County
Counselor

Street Address 200 E 6th (Courthouse)
Hugoton, Ks 67951
Mailing Address P.O. Box 866
Iola, Ks 66749
E-Mail Address N/A
Phone Numbers Office: (620) 365-3778
Fax: (620) 380-6230
Business Hours 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
 
 
Child in Need of Care (C.I.N.C.) Petitions /
Involuntary Substance Abuse/Mental Health Petitions
/
Bad Check Collection/Prosecution / DUI Diversions /
Victim/Witness Information / Stages of a Criminal Case /
Tips for Testifying in Court /
Frequently Asked Questions
/

Function of Department

The Stevens County Attorney's office is responsible the prosecution of all felony criminal cases, misdemeanors which occur outside of city limits, traffic offenses, Child in Need of Care cases, Care and Treatment cases, and all juvenile cases.

 

Mission Statement
To serve the people of Stevens County by seeking truth and justice in the prosecution of criminal acts which occur within Stevens County.

 

Forms Available

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If you have trouble accessing these forms, request them from the County Attorney at
(620) 544-4684

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Diversion Application

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Child in Need of Care Petition
(C.I.N.C Cases)

K.S.A 38-1502 defines a "child in need of care" as a person less than 18 years of age who:

  • is without adequate parental care, control, or subsistence, and the condition is not due solely to the lack of financial means of the child's parents or other custodian
  • is without the care or control necessary for the child's physical, mental, or emotional health
  • has been physically, mentally, or emotionally abused or neglected or sexually abused
  • has been abandoned or does not have a known living parent
  • is not attending school as required by K.S.A. 72-977 or 72-1111 [compulsory school attendance] and amendments thereto
  • does an act which, when committed by a person under 18 years of age, is prohibited by state law, city ordinance, or county resolution but which is not prohibited when done by an adult. This section does not apply to violations of K.S.A. 41-727 [minor in possession or consumption of alcohol], subsection (j) of K.S.A. 74-8810 [purchase of or interest in a pari-mutuel (gaming/racing ticket], or subsection (m) or (n) of K.S.A. 79-3321 [purchase or attempt to purchase tobacco products; possession or attempt to possess tobacco products], and amendments thereto, or subsection (a)(12) of K.S.A. 21-4204a [criminal possession of a firearm by a juvenile], and amendments thereto
  • while less than 10 years of age, commits any act which if done by an adult would constitute the commission of a felony or misdemeanor as defined by K.S.A. 21-3105 and amendments thereto
  • is willfully and voluntarily absent from the child's home without the consent of the child's parent or other custodian
  • is willfully and voluntarily absent at least a second time from a court ordered or designated placement, or a placement pursuant to court order, if the absence is without the consent of the person with whom the child is placed or, if the child is placed in a facility, without the consent of the person in charge of such facility or such person's designee
  • has been residing in the same residence with a sibling or another person under 18 years of age, who has been physically, mentally, or emotionally abused or neglected, or sexually abused
  • while less than 10 years of age commits the offense defined in K.S.A. 21-4204a [criminal possession of a fireman by a juvenile] and amendments thereto.

If you know of a child(ren) who fit(s) any of the definitions outlined above, please contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. Once a report is taken, the matter will be investigated and turned over to the County Attorney for the filing of a petition.

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Involuntary Substance Abuse/Mental Health Petitions
(Care and Treatment Cases)

Each of us may know someone who has a substance abuse (drugs, alcohol) problem, or may be suffering from a mental illness. While it may be in the best interests of this individual to be committed for purposes of treatment, the State of Kansas has set forth a specific criteria which must be met before an individual can be committed involuntarily.

The criteria for an involuntary commitment is that the individual is declared to be "an endangerment to themselves or others." Only a health professional can make such a determination.

If you know of anyone who is suffering from substance abuse or mental illness and you believe that they are likely to cause harm to themselves, you, or others, please contact your local law enforcement agency immediately. In cases where the individual poses an immediate threat, law enforcement may take the individual into protective custody for purposes of obtaining a health evaluation. At that time, the health professional will make the appropriate determination.

Once an individual is deemed to be "an endangerment to themselves or others," all reports will be submitted to the County Attorney and a petition will be filed. At that point, it is the Judge's decision whether or not to commit the individual.

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Bad Check Collection/Prosecution
(Hot Checks)

Prior to accepting a bad check for collection, the payee must send a letter to the person who signed the check, via certified, return-receipt mail. This letter must state the check number, the amount of the check, and why the check was returned. Also, this letter must advise the check writer that he/she has 7 days to make the check good (thus, this is referred to as the "7-day letter"). Once the payee has received the return-receipt card and 7 days have passed, or the letter is returned for whatever reason, he/she can then turn the check over to the County Attorney for collection.

A letter is again sent to the individual who signed the check. Before criminal charges are filed, a $10.00 service charge is assessed for each bad check. In addition, a $10.00 collection fee is assessed on each bad check. The individual is given approximately 14 days to respond to the letter. If the letter is returned, or if it has been delivered and no response has been received, the County Attorney will file a criminal complaint, and he/she has the discretion of asking for either a summons or warrant be issued for the defendant to appear before the court. Once a criminal action is filed, the defendant will then be assessed court costs of $111.00, a $10.00 service charge on each check, and a $10.00 collection fee on each check.

If the payee desires to have the bad check collected, he/she should bring a copy of the "7-day" letter, the returned letter or the return-receipt card, and the original check to the County Attorney's office. A brief affidavit will need to be filled out. There is no charge for this service. Once a bad check has been turned over to the County Attorney's office, all inquiries concerning that check, whether from the writer of the check or other persons, must be referred to the County Attorney. The County Attorney has complete control over the prosecution of the bad check once it is turned over to his office.

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DUI Diversions

An individual, after having been arrested for operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, may be considered for a diversion if none of the following apply:

  • a previous diversion or DUI conviction has occurred prior to the arrest of the defendant
  • lack of cooperation from the defendant with law enforcement and/or other victims or witnesses -- Lack of cooperation will be based upon facts provided in the reports, including but not limited to refusal to submit to any field sobriety tests without a valid reason and/or resistance, or abusive language toward the officer. In addition, the arresting officer will be consulted if there is any question as to the defendant's degree of cooperation or lack thereof.
  • failure to submit to alcohol testing, including the refusal of a PBT (preliminary breath test), or any breath, blood, or urinalysis testing upon arrest
  • the current DUI involves an accident -- An "accident" is defined as the infliction of any damage upon real property, personal property of another individual, or to any county property including bridges, sign posts, etc. An accident is further defined as any actions involving a motor vehicle which result in bodily injury to anyone other than the defendant.
  • a demand for jury trial has been filed and a jury trial date has been set.

The above-mentioned are not all inclusive or exclusive, but any one factor can automatically make a person ineligible for a diversion. Each request for diversion will be evaluated based upon the above. The County Attorney reserves the right to deny a DUI diversion based upon additional aggravating factors, such as failure to report an accident, leaving the scene of an accident, etc. Notwithstanding the provisions set forth above, the County Attorney reserves the right to grant diversions to anyone if it is deemed to be in the interests of justice and of benefit to the defendant and the community, in accordance with K.S.A. 22-2907 and K.S.A. 8-1567, et seq., as amended.

The diversion fee is $300.00, plus court costs of $54.00, for a total of $354.00. Payment in full must be made prior to filing of the agreement unless other arrangements have been made. In addition, an alcohol evaluation must be obtained prior to filing the agreement. Failure to make payment or to obtain an evaluation may result in the agreement becoming null and void. The agreement will go into effect once all costs have been paid, the evaluation is submitted to the County Attorney, and the diversion agreement is filed with the court.

The diversion fee is for the charge of DUI only. All other diverted charges will result in an additional minimum fee of $10.00 per charge or the minimum fine, which would otherwise be assessed by the court (i.e., no proof of insurance would be an additional fee of $300.00).

Diversions may be available for other crimes. Please call (620) 544-4684 for more information or to apply for a diversion. We will need your name, date of birth, and driver's license number. Also, we require that you complete a written Diversion Application which is available at the County Attorney's office or on line below.

Normally, we do not divert drug or drug-related charges.

Diversion Application

You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and/or print the documents listed above.
Click on the icon below to download free.
If you have trouble accessing these documents, call the office at
(620) 544-4684

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Victim/Witness Information

Kansas Victims Bill of Rights:

In order to ensure the fair and compassionate treatment of victims of crime and to increase the effectiveness of the criminal justice system by affording victims of crime certain basic rights and considerations, victims of crime shall have the following rights:

  • Victims should be treated with courtesy, compassion, and with respect for their dignity and privacy and should suffer the minimum of necessary inconvenience from their involvement with the criminal justice system.
  • Victims should receive, through formal and informal procedures, prompt and fair redress for the harm they have suffered.
  • Information regarding the availability of criminal restitution, recovery of damages in a civil cause of action, the crime victims' compensation fund and other remedies, and the mechanism to obtain such remedies should be made available to victims.
  • Information should be made available to victims about their participation in criminal proceedings and the scheduling, progress, and ultimate disposition of the proceedings.
  • The views and concerns of victims should be ascertained, and the appropriate assistance provided throughout the criminal process.
  • When the personal interests of victims are affected, the views or concerns of the victims should, when appropriate and consistent with criminal law and procedure, be brought to the attention of the court.
  • Measures may be taken when necessary to provide for the safety of victims and their families and to protect them from intimidation and retaliation
  • Enhanced training should be made available to sensitize criminal justice personnel to the needs and concerns of victims, and guidelines should be developed for this purpose.
  • Victims should be informed of the availability of health and social services and other relevant assistance that they might continue to receive the necessary medical, psychological, and social assistance through existing programs and service.
  • Victims should report the crime and cooperate with law enforcement authorities.

Kansas Constitutional Amendment States:

Victims of crime, as defined by law, shall be entitled to certain basic rights, including the right to be informed of and to be present at public hearings, as defined by law, of the criminal justice process, and to be heard at sentencing or at any other time deemed appropriate by the court, to the extent that these rights do not interfere with the constitutional or statutory rights of the accused.

Nothing is this section shall be construed as creating a cause of action for money damages against the state, a county, a municipality, or any of the agencies, instrumentalities, or employees thereof. The Legislature may provide for other remedies to ensure adequate enforcement of this section.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a court to set aside or to void a finding of guilty or not guilty or an acceptance of a plea of guilty or to set aside any sentence imposed or any other final disposition in any criminal case.

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Stages of a Criminal Case

Crime is committed/reported

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Investigation by Law Enforcement
(Reports are submitted by law enforcement, and
the County Attorney issues a summons or warrant.)


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Suspect Located and/or Arrested

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When the most severe charge is a
FELONY

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First Appearance
The defendant is informed of the charges, an attorney is appointed, and a date is set for a preliminary hearing. No evidence is presented.

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Preliminary Hearing
The State presents evidence to establish "probable cause" that the defendant committed a felony. If the court finds sufficient evidence, the defendant is bound over for trial; if the court does not find sufficient evidence, the defendant goes to trial for any misdemeanor charges. Subpoenas are issued for this hearing.

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Arraignment
This is basically another first appearance, but counsel has already been appointed. The defendant will either enter a plea of guilty and the case proceeds to sentencing, or he/she will enter a plea of not guilty and a trial date is set. No evidence is presented.

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Trial
The trial can be heard by either the Judge or a jury. In a felony case 12 jurors are called; in a misdemeanor case 6 jurors are called. All victims and witnesses will be subpoenaed to testify.

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Sentencing
Witnesses are not subpoenaed, but all victims are encouraged to fill out a Victim Impact Statement prior to sentencing. The Judge will take the victim's comments into consideration at sentencing. Each victim has the right to address the court in person at sentencing.

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When the most severe charge is MISDEMEANOR

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First Appearance/Arraignment
The defendant is informed of the charges, and a date is set for trial. The defendant may choose to enter a plea of guilty at this time, and the case would proceed to sentencing. No evidence is presented.

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Trial
The trial can be heard by either the Judge or a jury. In a misdemeanor case 6 jurors are called. All victims and witnesses will be subpoenaed to testify.

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Sentencing
Witnesses are not subpoenaed, but all victims are encouraged to fill out a Victim Impact Statement prior to sentencing. The Judge will take the victim's comments into consideration at sentencing. Each victim has the right to address the court in person at sentencing.

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Tips for Testifying in Court

Witnesses naturally feel apprehensive about their first appearance in court because they do not know what to expect. The following suggestions should help you prepare for your court appearance:

  • You will be asked to take an oath to tell the truth. Remember the seriousness of this oath during the entire time you are testifying. If you willfully fail to tell the truth while testifying, you will be subject to penalties for perjury.
  • Simply tell the truth.
  • Listen carefully to the questions and answer slowly and clearly.
  • Answer only the questions asked. Do not offer additional information or opinions unless asked.
  • Do not exaggerate.
  • Do not lose your temper. Be courteous.
  • If you can't answer a question with a yes or no, you should say so.
  • If your answer was not correctly stated, correct it immediately.
  • If an attorney objects to a question, wait until the judge indicates whether you should give an answer.
  • Remember to dress appropriately.
It is natural to be nervous. Take a few deep breaths to calm yourself and try to avoid nervous mannerisms.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Does your office charge any fees to the public?
A. No

Q. Can individuals call you for personal representation?
A. Only as a private attorney, not as the County Attorney

Q. How are you assigned cases?
A. The Sheriff or Police Department investigates a complaint. After that it is turned over to me and I decide whether or not to file charges.

Q. Do you have a part in sentencing?
A. I make recommendations to the Judge.

Q. Do you have a part in enforcing sentencing?
A. No, but I file motions to revoke probation when a defendant violates the conditions of his/her probation.

Q. How do you work with the community service coordinator?
A. Community service hours assigned by my office are monitored by her.

Q. Do you handle all type of offenses
A. I handle criminal, juvenile, traffic, children in need of care, and care and treatment cases.

Q. Will I receive compensation for appearing as a witness?
A. By statute, you will receive $10 per day witness fees plus mileage if you were subpoenaed from out of town.

Q. What if I am threatened as a witness?
A. Any attempt to prevent or dissuade a witness from testifying is a violation of Kansas law. Report any such incident immediately to the police and the prosecuting attorney.

Q. Should I talk to the defense attorney?
A. That is strictly your decision. You may, but you have no legal obligation to talk to the defense attorney.

Q. Can I watch the trial?
A. Unless all witnesses are sequestered, you may watch the trial; however, you should not discuss your testimony with other witnesses.

Q. Can I receive compensation for losses I suffered as a result of the crime?
A. Various means are available to assist you depending upon the type of loss, etc.

Q. When can I get my property back?
A. All property will be released as soon as possible; however, under unusual circumstances, it cannot be released until it is no longer needed as evidence. Any evidence seized which is classified as being illegal to possess will not be returned.

Q. What is a continuance?
A. For a number of reasons, it is frequently necessary to change the date of a court appearance. The County Attorney's office will make every effort to notify you by telephone if the court date has been continued to a later date. If the case is continued, you will receive a new subpoena telling you the new date if you have not already received it. You should call the County Attorney's office (620-544-4684) the day before your subpoena court date to verify that the court date has not been continued and that you are still required to appear in court on that date.

Q. What if I move or change jobs during the proceedings?
A. Always notify the County Attorney's office of any changes in address or employment immediately should they need to contact you.

Q. What if my employer won't let me come to court?
A. If you are lawfully subpoenaed to court, an employer cannot prevent attendance. When appropriate, the County Attorney's office will contact your employer to discuss the importance of your role as a witness.

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