Community service choice at center of debate for teen

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City teenager was ordered to do community service after she got caught shoplifting. She says she completed her required 30 hours, but was shocked to hear it might not count.

Sixteen-year old Veronica Gervais was granted what is known as "diversion." It's offered to some first time offenders of minor crime. The community service is part of that agreement.

Just this week, a motion was filed to revoke Gervais' diversion agreement..

Gervais chose to do her community service with "KC NORML." It's a branch of a national movement looking to legalize marijuana.

It's a movement other family members were already involved in.

"I have a lot of family involved in it, and it was one of those opportunities that was close to home," said Gervais.

Juveniles on diversion, or probation, in Johnson County, Kan., are allowed to seek their own non-profit organization with permission. That's something Veronica says she had from her diversion officer.

"He actually wrote it down on a piece of paper with all my information and stuff and he says, yeah i wrote it down but i didn't understand what the organization did," said Gervais.

She says it doesn't matter because she met the requirements, including submitting a letter on a company letterhead of a state-recognized organization.

But then, Gervais says, the diversion officer told her father he wouldn't accept her community service, because it was helping something illegal, become legal.

"I met the requirements, and if they don't believe that, that's their opinion. It's not about their opinion. It's not about what they think," said Gervais.

K.C. Norml's vice president Jenel Florez says Gervais completed her 30 hours. She was surpassed to hear the reason the girl says she was given for her 30-hours being rejected.

"I know her values as far as freedom and compassion are concern, and so i didn't think anything of it," said Jenel Florez, Vice President of K.C. Norml.

The Johnson County District Attorney's office isn't able to comment right now because the case is active.

A court document states that Veronica Gervais failed to meet her 30 hours. It doesn't mention whether it's because her diversion office isn't counting it. It also states that Gervais didn't pay a $182 fine.

However, she showed us this receipt for $230 dollar paid on May 10.

Jessica admits she isn't totally surprised the judicial system has a problem with her choice of community service groups. However, she says she wanted to be involved with a movement that was in the forefront of change.

She'll be back in court on June 3 to try to convince a judge.



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