Juvenile Diversion: To Do Or Not To Do


Some juveniles will have the opportunity to enter into a diversion agreement to avoid criminal charges.

A diversion agreement is offered before charges are ever filed in juvenile court. If a juvenile enters into and successfully completes a diversion agreement, then there is never a guilty conviction or finding and there are never criminal charges filed against them. The juvenile would have no criminal record; however, the juvenile court will be able to see that the juvenile participated in a diversion in order to track how many diversions that juvenile has completed if they get more charges in the future.  

To qualify for diversion, the crime must be a misdemeanor, such as Theft in the Third Degree or Possession of Drug Alcohol. Each juvenile automatically qualifies for diversion for their first misdemeanor offense, but for a second or third offense, the prosecutor has the discretion to refer the case for diversion or to file charges. Three diversions are the maximum that any particular youth may receive.  

Parents or Guardians are required to attend diversion meetings with the juvenile. The diversion process involves a one time meeting with a local community board to discuss the allegations and what the appropriate remedy is for the juvenile to take responsibility for their actions. Then the juvenile and parent enter into an agreement with the Diversion program where they agree to not commit any new law violations, and then the juvenile can agree to complete a number of conditions that could include:

-          community service hours,

-          an apology letter to the alleged victim,

-          pay restitution to the alleged victim,

-          pay a fine,

-          attend counseling,

-          attend a class or information session,

-          get a drug and alcohol assessment,

-          obey a curfew,

-          obey a no contact order,

-          and attend school. 

Ultimately a diversion is a great opportunity for a juvenile to avoid a criminal record. It also allows them the ability to take responsibility for their actions and learn a lesson while not having the charge impact them for years to come. HOWEVER, if a youth fails to successfully complete a diversion agreement, then charges may be filed against the youth and the prosecutor may be able to use any statements made during the diversion meeting against the youth in the criminal charges.

If you or a loved one are considering whether or not to enter into a diversion agreement, you need an experienced, aggressive, and knowledgeable juvenile defense attorney. Call Gause Law Offices today for a free consultation at 206-660-8775.