Information about the Juvenile Diversion Program
The goals and objectives of the Diversion Unit are:
- To hold the youth accountable for his or her offense(s)
- To foster change in the offender's attitudes and behaviors so that they conform to the law and community standards
- To impress upon the offender that the community is concerned with his or her conduct
- To increase the offender's awareness of the relationship between the offense committed and the people injured by the offense
- All proceedings are confidential
- Case records are confidential
- Legal representation is not required
- All hearings are open to the public
- Court records are public information
- Numerous court appearances may be required
- Court fees and/or fines are usually assigned
- The parent/guardian may have to reimburse the court for the public defender and a private attorney may charge fees for representation
- The youth may be sentenced to community supervision (probation)
In Cowlitz County these cases are typically handled on an individual basis by the juvenile department's Diversion Counselor. After receipt of a police referral, the counselor contacts the parent/guardian and the child to set up an appointment. This appointment is called a "diversion appointment" and the youth will be advised of his/her rights and will be given information about the diversion process. The nature of the offense and a review of the police report will be discussed and the child will enter into a diversion contract if everyone is in agreement.
A diversion agreement is a contract between the youth, his/her parent or guardian and the Juvenile Department which holds the youth accountable for the offense by:
- Assigning community service work to benefit the youth's community
- Requiring reimbursement to the victims
- Requiring attendance at informational/educational programs
The diversion counselor will also assist the family in finding needed services for the offender.
If your child is not currently on probation, we suggest contacting your school district's psychologist or the counselors at your child's school. If they are unable to help you, the Department of Social and Health Services, Family Reconciliation Division, has an At-Risk Youth Program that you may qualify for. Their contact number is 501-2600.
When an offender's offense has caused a financial loss to a victim, replacement of that loss (in the form of restitution) will normally be required by the Diversion Unit. The Diversion Counselor will contact the victim to determine the amount of such loss and assess the juvenile's ability to pay. It will set the restitution amount based on these two considerations and determine a schedule for payment.
The Diversion Unit deals only with the criminal charges; the victim retains the right to initiate civil court action for additional damages. In shoplifting cases, a special statute allows the victim/business to sue the parents regardless of the actual loss.
Everything you want to know about Juvenile Probation
In offender matters, we can confirm when the next scheduled court date is. However, if your attorney or probation officer has informed you to come on a different day or time, please follow their instructions. We cannot confirm the times or dates of dependency hearings. Please contact your attorney or caseworker to confirm your next court date.