Every year, more than 35,000 juvenile offenders are referred to Diversion Units throughout Washington State. Typically, the youth involved with diversion are ages 8 to 17 who are alleged to have committed misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor offenses. Diverting a substantial number of juvenile offenders reduces stigmatization and contagion that can occur for low risk offenders.
Diversion is different than the traditional court process in many ways. Diversion meetings and case records are confidential, whereas court and court records are open to the public. Diversion is much less formal than traditional court as there is no Judge or attorney's involved. Fees are also considerably less than court fees. It is important to not that diversion is NOT probation. Youth on diversion will not be required to do regular check ins, UAs, or follow a specific behavioral contract like probation youth.
Every juvenile has the right to free legal counsel and to take the case to court to hear in front of a Judge. Any youth who has been referred to the program has the right to consult an attorney. Diversion is a choice, not a requirement. Youth and parents can decided to reject the diversion option and take the case to court. If you would like to consult with an attorney, please call the Office of Public Defense at 360-578-7430.
- To hold youth accountable for their offense(s)
- To foster change in attitude and behavior to respect laws and the community
- To connect the youth with the community
- To increase awareness of the relationship between the offense committed and the victims
For more information about the program, the Diversion Brochure is available.
If youth choose to participate int he diversion program they will be required to sign a Diversion Agreement. In the agreement they could be asked to do one or a combination of restorative activities within 6 months of signing the contract. The Agreement and options will be fully explained in the meeting.
If you are scheduled for a diversion appointment but wish to speak with an attorney first, you can call Office of Public Defense at 360-578-7430.
For more information, please contact JuvPO@cowlitzwa.gov.