A court diversion program may be recommended for a youth who is charged with a first-time, nonviolent misdemeanor crime. The State Attorney’s Office decides whether or not to approve an arrested youth for a court diversion program. Youth who successfully complete a court diversion program will have “adjudication withheld.” This means that the charges will be dismissed and the youth will not have an adjudication on his or her record. (Note: the youth will still have an arrest record with the arresting agency and with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.)
Diversion Programs in Lee County
Each of Lee County’s post-arrest diversion programs work a little differently, but for all programs the youth must admit to the charge and agree to participate in the diversion program. Youth who participate in diversion programs may be given assignments as part of their case plan, such as, performing community service, writing letters of apology, attending counseling or classes, and any number of other consequences related to the charge. If a youth fails to complete his or her diversion case plan, the State Attorney will file a petition with the court formally charging the youth with the delinquent offense. Youth who successfully complete a diversion program will have their charges dismissed and the youth will not have an adjudication on his or her court record.
Youth who successfully complete a court diversion program will still have an arrest record. Florida statutes allow for some criminal records to be expunged for youth who have successfully completed a court diversion program. The application for expungement must be submitted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement no later than six months after completing the diversion program. Go to the FDLE website for more information on how to expunge a juvenile diversion record at www.fdle.state.fl.us/expunge.
Diversion programs in Lee County include:
Juvenile Diversion Alternative Program (J-DAP)
Provides intensive services to youth at high risk of becoming a serious or chronic offender. Targets youth age 17 and under. Provided through Bay Area Youth Services.
Juvenile Arbitration (JA)
Volunteer arbitrators hear cases and assign sanctions. Targets first time offenders for non-violent misdemeanor crimes. Provided through the Court Administration of the 20th Judicial Circuit.
Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT)
Provides group format to re-educate youth socially, morally, and behaviorally. Targets first time youth offenders who have committed a violent crime such as misdemeanor battery or aggravated battery.
Neighborhood Accountability Boards
Trained volunteer board members hear cases and develop a case plan for the youth to repair the harm caused by the crime. Provided by the Lee County Department of Human Services.
Substance Abuse Diversion
Provides assessment and group intervention for substance abuse related charges. Provided by SalusCare.
Teen court cases are heard by a jury of youth peers. Targets first time offenders for non-violent misdemeanor crimes. Provided by the Court Administration of the 20th Judicial Circuit.