Juvenile Eligibility Criteria

What is juvenile diversion?

Juvenile diversion is a program that seeks to divert youths accused of crimes from the formal juvenile justice system and integrate restorative justice practices. This means the juvenile and their associated criminal charges will be diverted from court and handled through individually designed case supervision without judicial involvement. The goal of diversion is to prevent the juvenile from being subjected to further involvement in the criminal justice system.

When and how is the decision to divert made?

A juvenile’s criminal case is referred from law enforcement to the District Attorney’s Office with a request for legal action. The juvenile and their parents/guardians may have already received a “Promise to Appear” for a court date. A risk-needs assessment will be completed by the District Attorney’s Office. This is a screening tool designed to inform diversion decisions. A prosecutor will review the police reports and the risk-needs assessment to decide whether the juvenile will be referred to diversion or formally prosecuted in Court.

What are the criteria for diversion?

The decision to offer diversion is based on many factors with discretion left to the prosecutor reviewing the case, including but not limited to:

  • Type and level of offense;
  • Prior law enforcement involvement;
  • Level of services needed;
  • Victim input;
  • Community safety risks;
  • Juvenile’s willingness to be accountable;
  • Juvenile’s and their parent’s/guardian’s amenability for change and willingness to be supervised;
  • Whether the juvenile is already being supervised by another agency; and
  • Whether the juvenile has previously been offered diversion.

What will happen on diversion?

If a juvenile is referred to diversion, a Juvenile Justice Coordinator will review the case and contact the juvenile and their parents/guardians for an appointment to be interviewed for diversion. This normally happens within 5-10 days after the District Attorney’s Office receives the law enforcement report. On occasion, a case may be referred to diversion after it has already been filed with the court.

An initial interview is scheduled with the parents/guardians and the juvenile. They will be asked to fill out personal information forms and bring them to the interview at the Coordinator’s office. A diversion contract is created between the juvenile, the parents/guardians, and the Coordinator. Each contract is individualized to address the specific needs of the juvenile. The basic diversion program requires:

  • School attendance;
  • Employment or participation in a positive extra-curricular activity;
  • Curfew restrictions;
  • Payment of fees;
  • Useful public service (community service) hours;
  • Restorative justice program participation; and
  • Payment of restitution, (if required).

Depending on the needs of a juvenile, a diversion contract may include other conditions such as MIP (minor in possession) classes; drug/alcohol screening, evaluation and/or treatment; the addiction symposium; victim empathy classes; victim/offender mediation; anger management classes; mental health assessment; individual and/or family counseling; grief counseling; and mentoring or advocacy. Participants in diversion may also access services from the Partners Program, Center for Mental Health, Gunnison County Department of Human Services, Hospice, and various private counseling alternatives.

What happens when the contract is completed?

When a youth successfully completes the terms of their contract, the case is closed and the case is thereafter automatically expunged from the juvenile’s record. An exit interview is conducted, and the youth and parents/guardians are asked to evaluate the program.

If the youth fails to comply with the terms of the contract, the case may be forwarded to court for formal prosecution. Identifying statics will be kept to track the successes and needs of diversion programs across the state.