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Juvenile Court

Juvenile Court Department of the King County Superior Court

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DIVERSION

    General

  1. What is diversion?
  2. What are the differences between diversion and court?
  3. What if I do not want to go through diversion?
  4. How many times can I go through diversion?
  5. Who can I call to ask questions about diversion?
  6. Can I get a copy of my arrest report?
  7. Do I need a lawyer to go through diversion?
  8. Can I speak with a lawyer about my decision to go through diversion?
  9. What if I am almost 18?
    Diversion Meeting

  10. Who will be at my diversion meeting?
  11. Do my parents have to come with me to my diversion meeting?
  12. What will happen at my diversion meeting?
  13. How long will the diversion meeting take?
  14. What is the difference in the diversion process for drug or alcohol offenses?
  15. What happens after my diversion meeting?
  16. Where will my diversion meeting be?
  17. When will my diversion meeting be?
  18. What if my parents have already punished me?
  19. Will I have to go to Juvenile Detention?
  20. What are the possible outcomes of my diversion meeting?
    Confidentiality

  21. Who will know about my diversion?
  22. Will I have a criminal record?
  23. Can I have my diversion records destroyed?
    Fee
  24. What is a diversion fee?
  25. Why is there a diversion fee?
  26. How much is the diversion fee?
  27. Who must pay the diversion fee?
  28. What if I can’t afford to pay the diversion fee?
  29. What is the diversion fee used for?
  30. Who can I ask questions about my diversion fee?

What is diversion?
Diversion is a way of dealing with youth who are charged with an offense where the youth does not go to court and there is no trial. Instead of having the case tried in a formal courtroom setting before a judge, the youth and his or her family meet with a Community Accountability Board (CAB) comprised of volunteers from the youth’s community. The CAB makes no findings of innocence or guilt. By appearing at the diversion meeting, the youth is able to take responsibility for his or her actions without obtaining a criminal record. After participating in diversion, a youth may truthfully say that they have not been convicted of a crime.

The diversion process differs for drug and alcohol offenses. See: What is the difference in the diversion process for drug or alcohol offenses?

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What are the differences between diversion and court?

Juvenile Court: Hearings are open to the public
Lawyer is appointed
Appear before a judge
Hearings are held in Seattle during the day
The court process may take 3 days or longer
If convicted, the conviction is public record
Fee is charged (currently $580)
Diversion: Proceedings are confidential and private
No lawyer is appointed
Appear before a volunteer Community Accountability Board or drug and alcohol counselor
Meetings are held in your community, usually in the evening
Youth will have no conviction or criminal record
Fee is charged (currently $263)

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What if I do not want to go through diversion?
If you choose not to participate in diversion or if you fail to respond to your diversion letter by the response date, your case will be returned to the prosecutor for filing of charges in Juvenile Court.

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How many times can I go through diversion?
You may be allowed to participate in diversion for a maximum of two misdemeanor offenses. First time misdemeanor offenses are automatically referred to Diversion. When a youth commits a second misdemeanor offense, it is at the discretion of the Prosecuting Attorney whether the referral is diverted or filed on in Juvenile Court.

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Who can I call to ask questions about diversion?
If you have questions about diversion that are not answered by this web page, you may call the following numbers between 8:30am and 4:30pm, Monday through Friday: (206) 296-1131, (206) 296-1179, or (206) 296-1130.

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Can I get a copy of my arrest report?
The diversion office is not authorized to release police reports for diversion cases. This is due in part to the fact that there are often names of other juveniles, witnesses, and victims in police reports which must remain confidential.

The diversion office will only release police reports to attorneys who submit a Request for Discovery. Attorneys are bound by the rules of discovery as to what juvenile, witness, and victim information in the police report they may share with their clients.

Some police agencies will release police reports.

If you want a copy of your police report, you must contact the arresting police agency or retain an attorney.

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Do I need a lawyer to go through diversion?
No. You do not need to hire an attorney to participate in diversion. The process involves the family and the youth only. You do have the right to have an attorney present at your diversion meeting to advise you. However, your attorney will not be permitted to participate in the meeting or negotiate the terms of your Diversion Agreement. If you choose to have a lawyer present at your diversion meeting, you must pay for this service. If you wish to have an attorney argue your case, you must go to trial.

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Can I speak with a lawyer about my decision to go through diversion?
You can talk to a lawyer about whether you should participate in diversion or go to court and you will not have to pay for this service. If you do not believe you committed the offense you are being accused of, you should talk to a lawyer. A Public Defender is available for a phone consultation free of charge 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday at (206) 205-5998. If you leave a message on this line, you should receive a call back within five (5) days.

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What if I am almost 18?
If you are going to turn 18 within the next 2 – 3 months, you must call the diversion office immediately if you wish to participate in diversion. If you do not, you may lose the opportunity to participate in diversion and your case may be referred to adult court where you will be charged as an adult. If you are almost 18, please call one of the following numbers:

(206) 296-1179,(206) 296-1131,or (206) 296-1130

as soon as possible. The Central Diversion staff will help you expedite the processing and scheduling of your case.

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Who will be at my Diversion meeting?
You, your parent(s) or guardian(s), 2 –3 Community Accountability Board (CAB) members, and a court advisor will be present at the diversion meeting. The CAB members are volunteers from your community who have been screened and trained by the Superior Court to hear diversion cases. The court advisor is there to make sure everything is done properly and legally. Everyone present will have signed an agreement to keep all matters discussed in the meeting confidential.

If you were arrested for a drug or alcohol offense, you will, in most cases, meet with a drug and alcohol counselor instead of a Community Accountability Board and court consultant. Please see: What is the difference in the diversion process for drug or alcohol offenses?

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Do my parents have to come with me to my diversion meeting?
Yes. Your parent or guardian must accompany you to your diversion meeting.

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What will happen at my diversion meeting?
The Community Accountability Board (CAB) will first speak with you and your parent(s) or guardian(s) together. They will then speak with you alone. They will next speak with your parent(s) or guardian(s) alone. Next, they will confer among themselves. Finally, they will bring you and your parent(s) or guardian(s) back into the room where they will most likely ask you to sign a Diversion Agreement. The Diversion Agreement is a legal contract between you and the CAB. This contract may require you to complete one or more of the following sanctions:

  • Perform community service hours
  • Pay restitution to the victim of your crime
  • Pay a fine
  • Attend counseling
  • Attend an educational or informational session (class)
  • Get a drug & alcohol assessment
  • Obey a curfew
  • Obey a no contact order
  • Attend parent-teen mediation.
If you were arrested for a drug or alcohol offense, your diversion meeting will be handled differently. Please see: What is the difference in the diversion process for drug or alcohol offenses?

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How Long will the diversion meeting take?
Diversion meetings usually take between 45 minutes and an hour.

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What is the difference in the diversion process for drug or alcohol offenses?
If you were arrested for a drug or alcohol offense, your diversion meeting will be handled differently. Instead of meeting with a Community Accountability Board, you will most likely meet with a drug and alcohol counselor for a drug and alcohol assessment. You will be asked questions about your drug and alcohol use. Your counselor may speak with your parent(s) or guardian(s). Your counselor may make recommendations, but in most cases you will not be required to sign a Diversion Agreement unless this is your second drug or alcohol offense.

If this is your second drug or alcohol offense, you will be required to sign a Diversion Agreement. The Diversion Agreement may require you to attend classes and/or counseling sessions or participate in treatment.

Upon signing a Diversion Agreement for a drug or alcohol offense, notice will be sent to the Department of Licensing in Olympia. This will result in a driver’s license revocation.

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What happens after my diversion meeting?
If you signed a Diversion Agreement, you will be assigned a monitor to keep track of your progress on completion of the Diversion Agreement. It will be your responsibility to report your progress to your monitor. Once you have completed the conditions of the agreement, your monitor will inform the court and your case will be closed. If you do not complete the conditions of your agreement in the time allotted or if you do not provide proof of completion by the completion date, the monitor will return the case to Prosecuting Attorney for filing of charges in Juvenile Court.

If you do not sign a Diversion Agreement, your case will be closed after your diversion meeting.

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Where will my diversion meeting be?
Your diversion meeting will be held in the community where you live. We have twenty three (23) Community Accountability Boards and five (5) youth service bureaus throughout King County. Your case will be assigned to the location closest to your home.

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When will my diversion meeting be?
When you return your fee form to the diversion office, they will forward your case to the Community Accountability Board or youth service bureau within two working days. You will be notified by mail of your appointment date and location, usually within two weeks to a month. Diversion meetings for drug and alcohol offenses are usually held during the day. Diversion meetings for all other offenses are usually scheduled in the evening.

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What if my parents have already punished me?
Parental discipline at home does not excuse you from your responsibility to be accountable for your actions in court or at your diversion meeting. However, you will have the opportunity to share whatever consequences your parents may have imposed with the Community Accountability Board. They may take this into consideration when deciding what to include in your Diversion Agreement.

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Will I have to go to Juvenile Detention?
No. The Community Accountability Board does not have the authority to order you detained or imprisoned. No one is ever required to spend time in Juvenile Detention for a diverted offense unless they fail to comply with their Diversion Agreement and their case is filed on in court where a judge deems detention appropriate.

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What are the possible outcomes of my diversion meeting?
At the end of your diversion meeting you will most likely be asked to sign a Diversion Agreement. The Diversion Agreement is a legal contract between you and the Community Accountability Board. This contract may require you to complete one or more of the following sanctions:

  • Perform community service hours
  • Pay restitution to the victim of your crime
  • Pay a fine
  • Attend counseling
  • Attend an educational or informational session/class
  • Get a drug & alcohol assessment
  • Obey a curfew
  • Obey a no contact order
  • Attend School
  • Attend parent-teen mediation.
In some cases, your case may be counseled and released. This means that you will not be required to sign a Diversion Agreement and your case will be closed after your diversion meeting.

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Who will know about my diversion?
The diversion process is confidential. Employers, potential employers, and military personnel do not have access to diversion records. Your participation in diversion is not public record.

If you sign a Diversion Agreement for one of the following offenses: inhaling toxic fumes, a controlled substance violation, a liquor violation, assault, harassment, reckless burning, malicious mischief, reckless endangerment, and/or a weapons offense, chapter 13.04 of the Revised Code of Washington requires that notice will be sent to your school principal. This notice will only include your name and the offense that you committed. It will not include the details of the offense. Please note that the majority of drug and alcohol cases are counseled and released and school notification is thus not required by law. See: What is the difference in the diversion process for drug or alcohol offenses?

After participating in diversion you will NOT have a criminal record. You will have a confidential criminal history. The main difference between a criminal record and a criminal history is that a criminal record is available to the public while a criminal history is not. Your criminal history is our way of internally keeping track of your participation in diversion. Your criminal history will include the details of the offense and whether you signed a diversion agreement or were counseled and released. Your criminal history is not public record; it is not available to the public. It is only available to the police, the prosecutor, the court, and the diversion unit.

If you sign a Diversion Agreement for a drug or alcohol offense, notice will be sent to the Department of Licensing in Olympia. Please note that for the vast majority of first time drug and alcohol offenses, Diversion Agreements are not signed and the DOL is not notified. Please see: What is the difference in the diversion process for drug or alcohol offenses?

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Will I have a criminal record?
After participating in diversion you will NOT have a criminal record. You will have a confidential criminal history. The main difference between a criminal record and a criminal history is that a criminal record is available to the public while a criminal history is not. Your criminal history is our way of internally keeping track of your participation in diversion. Your criminal history will include the details of the offense and whether you signed a diversion agreement or were counseled and released. Your criminal history is not public record; it is not available to the public. It is only available to the police, the prosecutor, the court, and the diversion unit.

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Can I have my diversion records destroyed?
The Court will automatically destroy all of your records related to your offense if your criminal history contains only one diversion, you are at least 18 years old, and two years have passed since you completed diversion.

You may also ask the court to destroy all your records related to your diverted offenses if your criminal history consists of only referrals to diversion, you are at least 23 years old, all of your diversion agreements have been completed, and you have no pending criminal proceedings.

If you would like your records destroyed please call Juvenile Court Records: (206) 205-9602

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What is a diversion fee?
The diversion fee is a fee that the parent(s) or guardian(s) of a youth must pay if they wish their son or daughter to participate in diversion. Under King County Ordinance No. 11135 and Chapter 171 Laws of Washington, and RCW 13.40, the Superior Court is required to recover the costs of diversion. To the extent that they are financially able, parents and guardians are responsible for the costs of the diversion services for their children in Washington State. The maximum amount you are required to pay is $263, the cost of diversion. This fee may be paid in four monthly installments of $65.75.

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Why is there a diversion fee?
Under King County Ordinance No. 11135 and Chapter 171 Laws of Washington, and RCW 13.40, the Superior Court is required to recover the costs of diversion.

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How much is the diversion fee?
The maximum diversion fee is $263, the actual cost of diversion. This may be paid in four monthly payments of $65.75. This fee may be reduced or waived based on the parents’ or guardians’ ability to pay. See: What if I can’t afford to pay the diversion fee?

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Who must pay the diversion fee?
The parent(s) or guardian(s) of youth who participate in the Diversion Program are legally responsible for paying the diversion fee. The youth themselves are not charged the fee because it is unlawful to bill anyone under the age of 18 and state law requires that parents pay this fee.

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What if I can’t afford to pay the diversion fee?
No child may be denied diversion based on his or her parents’ or guardians’ inability to pay. Your diversion fee may be reduced or waived based on your income. If you believe you may qualify for a reduced fee, you must fill out the financial statement included in your diversion letter and return it along with both parents’ or guardians’ two most recent pay stubs or previous year’s W2 tax forms and a completed fee form (also included in diversion letter). If you receive medical coupons, include copies of medical coupons for all covered family members. Mail the above mentioned paperwork to:

Financial Screener
King County Superior Court
Juvenile Diversion Services
1401 East Jefferson, Ste. 506
Seattle, WA 98122.

Our financial screener will review these documents and determine your ability to pay based on the federal poverty guidelines. The financial screener will assess a fee and bill you the assessed amount. You can make up to four monthly payments on your assessed fee. If your fee is waived, you will not receive a bill.

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What is the diversion fee used for?
The Central Diversion office employs five full time employees. The 23 Community Accountability Boards (CABs) utilize approximately 80 contract staff who schedule diversion meetings, monitor diversion agreements, and advise the volunteers at the CAB meetings. The Diversion Program contracts with five youth service bureaus whose drug and alcohol counselors perform drug and alcohol assessments for youth charged with drug and alcohol offenses. At any given time there may be up to seven Deputy Prosecuting Attorneys screening and processing diversion cases. A cost analysis was performed and it was determined that, on average, it costs $263 per diversion case from the time the prosecutor receives it to the time that the case is closed. The diversion program does not generate a profit.

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Who can I ask questions about my diversion fee?
If you have questions about your diversion fee, you may contact our Financial Screener at: (206) 296-1130, 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday.