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Juvenile Diversion Program
What is the Community Diversion Program?
Community Diversion is a community-based program designed to sanction and assist certain juvenile misdemeanor and unruly offenders. Juvenile offenders and their parent(s)/guardian(s) attend a conference with a volunteer magistrate to discuss the incident and determine how the case may best be resolved.
How does Community Diversion work?
The Juvenile Court refers eligible misdemeanor and unruly offenders to a program in the community where the child committed the offense or where the child resides. The local community contacts parents and juveniles to schedule a conference with a volunteer magistrate. If the juvenile complies with sanctions agreed to at this conference, the juvenile avoids being formally charged with the offense and has no juvenile court record.
How does the Court decide what cases to refer to Community Diversion?
To be referred to a Community Diversion Program, the offense must be a misdemeanor or unruly violation. The Court also considers the following factors in making a referral to a Community Diversion Program:
- previous involvement with the Court
- previous involvement with law enforcement
- severity and nature of offense
- demonstrated remorse
- demonstrated cooperative nature any other information provided by complainant
What types of sanctions may a child face?
Program sanctions may include, but are not limited to the following: community service hours, restitution, letters of apology, written assignments, curfews and restriction of privileges. In addition to sanctions, services such as drug or alcohol assessment, testing and treatment, academic testing and tutoring, and mental health assessment, treatment and counseling may be a part of the conference agreement.
What happens if a juvenile does not comply with a Program agreement?
Juveniles who fail to comply with the terms of the conference agreement or otherwise abide by the rules of the program, will be referred to the Juvenile Court for other action, including official action. Official action means that the juvenile is formally and officially charged with the offense. The filing of an official charge with the Court creates a Juvenile Court record for the child.
To participate in Community Diversion, do we need an attorney?
No. Community Diversion is not an official legal proceeding requiring the presence of an attorney. There is no record of the conference. Nothing that a participant says during the conference can be used against the child in a court of law. Although Program participants must admit their actions, this discussion is not a legal admission or entry of a guilty plea. Neither the Juvenile Court nor the individual Programs are responsible for providing attorneys for Community Diversion Program participants. However, it is certainly your right to consult an attorney.
Is Community Diversion mandatory?
Community Diversion is a voluntary program. Juveniles willing to accept responsibility for their actions and be held accountable are encouraged to participate. Juveniles who deny involvement and/or responsibility are entitled to a trial at the Juvenile Court. The Community Diversion Program is not a forum to hear evidence, cross-examine witnesses or otherwise determine the facts.
Must parents or guardians participate?
Yes! The Program requires that at least one parent or legal guardian attend the Community Diversion conference. In some situations, parents may be more involved through ongoing parenting or family management classes. For many parents, Community Diversion is an opportunity to address ongoing concerns and solve problems that the juvenile may have at home as well as at school.
Is Community Diversion confidential?
Yes! The Program conferences are confidential and closed to the public.
How does Community Diversion benefit victims?
Victims benefit when the offending juvenile(s) participate in the program.Victims receive:
- faster restitution for property damage and/or medical expenses
- knowledge the juvenile is being held accountable for offenses and actions
- opportunity to participate, if appropriate and if so desired. In addition, victims do not have to testify downtown when the juvenile participates in the Program.
Brooklyn's Community Diversion Program is also referred to as the Juvenile Diversion Program.