Many juvenile crimes and offenses are taken extremely seriously under Virginia law, and any juvenile who is facing charges should seek assistance from an aggressive and experienced Fairfax juvenile defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you obtain representation from a criminal defense attorney in Virginia, it may be possible to enter into a diversion program so that you can avoid having a criminal record and, more importantly in many cases, can avoid serving a sentence that involves a term of imprisonment. While not all juvenile offenders are eligible for a diversion program, it is important to understand when diversion programs are options and how they work. The following are five things to know about Virginia juvenile diversion programs.
- Diversion is an Option Under Virginia Law
Virginia law (6VAC35-150-335) specifically provides for diversion as an alternative in certain types of criminal cases. The statute explains that, “when an intake officer proceeds with diversion in accordance with . . . the Code of Virginia, such supervision shall not exceed 120,” and “[f]or a juvenile alleged to be a truant pursuant to a complaint filed in accordance with . . . the Code of Virginia, such supervision shall be limited to 90 days.”
The law cites “probation, parole, and other supervision” in relation to diversion alternatives.
- Recommendations for Diversion Programs Are Typically Made After the Intake Process
As you might have realized from the above description, after a juvenile (or an adult) is arrested, that person will go through the intake process according to Virginia law (Code of Va. § 16.1-260). When a minor is facing criminal charges, that minor will meet with an intake officer, who will obtain many different types of information from the minor. This is known as an assessment process, and once the intake officer completes the assessment process, the minor may be eligible for diversion program options.
- Intake Officers Typically Perform Two Different Assessments for Juvenile Offenders
In situations involving minors who are charged with criminal offenses, Fairfax County explains that the intake officer will typically conduct interviews with the minor and his or her family in order to administer two different types of assessments:
- Youth Assessment Screening Instrument, or YASI, which is designed to determine “how likely a child is to commit another crime”; and
- Global Assessment of Individual Needs-Short Screen, or GAIN-SS, which is designed to identify “any mental concerns the child might be having such as depression or anxiety and possible substance abuse.”
- Different Diversion Programs May Be Possible for Juvenile Offenders in Virginia
Minors who are facing criminal charges may be eligible for a variety of diversion programs, which can include:
- Diversion Hearing;
- Monitored Diversion Program;
- Unofficial Counseling;
- Community Service;
- Victim Impact classes;
- Core Values classes; and
- Other diversion options.
- Violent Juvenile Felonies Are Not Typically Eligible for Diversion Programs
In situations where a minor has been charged with a violent juvenile felony, diversion programs might not be an option. It will be particularly important to seek advice from a juvenile criminal defense lawyer in Manassas who can help to determine options for a minor who is facing violent felony charges.
Contact a Fairfax Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Juvenile crimes can result in devastating consequences if the minor and his or her family do not have an experienced lawyer to help handle the charges. Depending upon the type of criminal offense a juvenile is facing, that juvenile can be transferred to adult court. Under any circumstances—regardless of whether the juvenile’s case will be heard in juvenile court or adult court—it is critical to have a Fairfax juvenile criminal defense attorney who can help you to fight the charges and, even if it does not seem possible to beat the charges, to move toward diversion program options.