The Code of Virginia explains that the goal of the juvenile court is to divert appropriate cases to alternative programs while maintaining public safety. Diverted cases typically include minor misdemeanor charges that may be resolved informally. Intake provides diversion programs so cases can avoid the formal court process. The person filing the complain must be willing to prosecute if the child fails their diversion.
- evidence that a crime has been committed,
- the charge(s) is eligible, and
- the child accepts responsibility for their actions.
- Youth Assessment Screening Instrument (YASI): looks at how likely a child is to commit another crime.
- Global Assessment of Individual Needs- Short Screen (GAIN-SS): Identifies any mental concerns the child might be having such as depression or anxiety and possible substance abuse.
The intake officer makes recommendations to the family and may encourage participating in treatment programs. After successful completion of a diversion program, the child will not have a criminal court conviction. Types of diversion programs include:
- Diversion Hearing: A child may attend a Diversion Hearing. During the hearing, a hearing officer, the juvenile, and the parents/guardians discuss the situation. The complainant and victim may also be present. The victim may appear in person or provide a written statement. At the end of the hearing, the child receives some type of sanction. Sanctions may include community service, mental health or substance abuse counseling/interventions, or completion of a court-approved program.
- Monitored Diversion Program: A child may participate in Monitored Diversion where he or she is monitored/supervised by a diversion counselor for a period up to 90 days.
- Unofficial Counseling: An intake officer may offer to counsel to your child. This may or may not include a referral to an outside agency such as Alcohol and Drug Services, mental health services, etc.
- Community Service and/or Victim Impact/Core Values Classes: Community Service is a way for a juvenile to do work that will benefit the community. Victim Impact/Core Values classes focus on teaching a juvenile the consequences of crime through homework and class discussion.
- other diversion programs as available.
If a youth does not complete the sanctions or recommendations made during diversion, an intake officer may file a petition. Staff may also file a petition if the child receives additional charges during the diversion period. When a petition is filed, it begins the formal court process.