The Buffalo County Juvenile Diversion Program is committed to assisting youth in avoiding delinquent and criminal behavior. Juvenile rehabilitation and accountability is the primary goal of the program.
Individuals who wish to participate in the Juvenile Diversion Program must:
Prior criminal and juvenile court records will be considered in the eligibility determination. The program is voluntary, and is a privilege, not a right.
- Be between 12 and 18 years of age. (Juveniles 11 and younger will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.)
- Accept responsibility for their offense and acknowledge the extent of their involvement.
- Be willing to comply with all of the program requirements.
- Reside in Buffalo County.
Seriousness of the Offense:
In determining the eligibility of the juvenile to participate in Diversion, the County Attorney will consider the seriousness of the offense. These factors will be used:
- The juvenile’s previous encounters with the law, including delinquent behavior.
- The length of time over which any prior offenses occurred, and similarity of those offenses.
- Whether the offense involved violence, and whether it was premeditated.
- The number of victims involved in the offense.
- The potential for actual harm to the victim(s), even if unintended.
- The monetary value of any damages.
- The juvenile’s motives for committing the offense.
- The likelihood of future law violations
- Whether the juvenile is amenable to treatment.
Advantages to Participation:
Successful Diversion participants benefit in these ways:
- Criminal charges regarding the offense will be dismissed or not filed.
- Improvement in personal responsibility and coping skills.
- Opportunity to develop a sense of community responsibility and accountability.
- Assessment. Upon the offer by the County Attorney to participate in Diversion, the juvenile will complete an intake assessment. He or she will be required to meet with the Diversion Administrator to discuss the referral, the diversion process, and the offender’s willingness to participate. The youth’s history, family life, academic performance, and other relevant factors will be examined. The Diversion Administrator may also provide avenues for additional services and/or make referrals to other agencies.
- Drug/Alcohol Assessment. All youth who are referred with drug- or alcohol-related offenses will be required to get a complete professional drug/alcohol evaluation at their expense. The results of this assessment will be shared with the youth and their parent(s), and be required to follow the recommendations of the assessment.
- Drug/Alcohol Testing. Once accepted into the Program, continued use or possession of illegal drugs or alcohol will be forbidden. At any time while on Diversion, the youth may be required to submit to drug and alcohol screening. The Diversion Administrator may share the results of such testing with the County Attorney, who will consider whether the youth will be allowed to continue in the Diversion Program. An offender deemed no longer eligible for Diversion will be referred back to the court for formal charges.
- Curfews. After being accepted into the Juvenile Diversion Program, some participants may be required to observe a curfew. The juvenile, the parent(s), and the Program Administrator will help in determining the curfew times and conditions.
- Duration of the Program. The Program will be tailored to the individual needs of the juvenile. Consequently, the duration of the program will depend on the offender. The maximum term of Diversion will not exceed one year.
- No Plea Required. While the participant must acknowledge their participation in the offense, they will not be required to enter a court plea of “admit” or “no contest.” The County Attorney will not use any admissions if charges are subsequently filed.
- Victim/Offender Mediation. If the victim agrees, the offender may be considered for mediation.
- Sponsor. A juvenile participating in Diversion will be asked to have a responsible adult as their sponsor. The Program Administrator must approve the sponsor. The sponsor may be a parent, relative, or friend.
Specific Requirements May Include:
- Paying all required fines, fees, and restitution.
- Satisfactorily completing all required community service.
- Attending and participating in all educational classes.
- Writing a letter of apology to the victim(s).
- Informing the school in writing about participation in the Diversion Program and serving all, if any, school-related consequences.
- Avoiding social situations that may involve criminal or delinquent behavior.
- Obeying school and household rules, and working towards a good academic standing.
- Receiving no additional violations and obeying the rules of the Program.
- Signing a release of information permitting open communication with the school and other interested parties and the Diversion Program.
- Each individual is entitled to and capable of being responsible for his or her lawful participation in society.
How to Apply:
If you are offered Diversion, please complete our Youth Questionnaire and Parent Questionnaire, then call the Diversion office at (308) 233-5229 for an appointment.