A juvenile diversion program is a program or approach to hold youth accountable for their behavior without resorting to typical criminal legal sanctions. Typical criminal legal sanctions may include:
- Court oversight
- Criminal records
According to the federal Office of Juvenile Justice, Delinquency and Prevention, 41% of juveniles were referred for diversion nationwide in 2018. Of the remaining 59% of juveniles, only 6% committed violent offenses. Several types of juvenile diversion programs exist in Texas and Bexar County in particular. All with the goal of rehabilitating young people and keeping them from a lifetime in the criminal court system. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in San Antonio.
Types of Juvenile Diversion Programs
Some of the most common juvenile diversion programs include:
- Supervision outside of court and/or
- Treatment in place of detention
Supervision outside of the courtroom can involve:
- Home confinement
- Placement with another relative or in foster care
- Community service
- Electronic monitoring devices.
Treatment in place of detention can be in the form of:
- Individual counseling for mental health issues
- Drug testing and drug counseling
These are not exhaustive lists of juvenile diversion programs. Each state and county have their own programs available to youthful offenders and approach juvenile diversion programs differently.
Bexar County’s Juvenile Diversion System
Bexar County is known for offering a comprehensive juvenile diversion system. Its system includes, but is by no means limited to the following:
- A girls-only diversion program
- A boys-only diversion program
- An equine program
- A drug treatment program
- A mental health treatment program
Juvenile diversion programs, like Bexar County’s, are not appropriate for all youth. However, certain youth, like first-time minor offenders, can benefit significantly from alternative treatment methods that allow them to bypass court altogether.
Young people who threaten public safety, commit serious violent felonies, or are chronic offenders are rarely good choices for juvenile diversion programs.
Effectiveness of Juvenile Diversion Programs
According to research, juvenile diversion programs are effective in reducing repeat offenses. Young people who are low risk and attend a diversion program are 45% less likely to re-offend than those young people going through formal court processes.
Simply allowing young offenders to stay out of the criminal court system permits them to grow out of some behaviors and frees up court resources to focus on more serious youthful offenders. A study showed that counseling, skill-building, and restorative justice reduced repeat offenses by 10% compared with 1% by traditional supervised probation.
If your loved one is facing a juvenile charge, call an experienced criminal defense attorney at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, today. Please do not allow your young person’s charge to affect their future educational or career-oriented hopes and dreams.
At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, our San Antonio attorneys are proven effective in achieving successful results for our clients. Call us today to discuss the facts of your loved one’s case and ask any questions you may have about juvenile diversion programs in Bexar County or Texas in general.