What Is Delaware’s School Offense Diversion Program?
Delaware juvenile justice laws are different from the adult criminal process in many ways, and one in particular involves how a minor may enter the system. If a young person is arrested by police for breaking the law, he or she will be diverted into the juvenile system unless the offense requires a direct file in adult court. However, when a student engages in criminal acts at school, he or she may be charged with a crime by the School Resource Officer instead of law enforcement. In these cases, the alleged juvenile offender could qualify for the Delaware Center for Justice School Offense Diversion Program (SoDP).
There are multiple diversion programs under Delaware law, but the point is to create a type of probation that puts the accused individual in control over how the charges are resolved. Though a minor would not face the same punishment as adults, there are advantages dealing with a juvenile offenses case via the SoDP. You can discuss the details with a Wilmington juvenile crimes defense lawyer, but an overview is useful.
SoDP for Juvenile Offenders: The program was implemented by the Delaware Department of Justice because of the uptick in student arrests by school resource officers in school or on school grounds. At one time, these cases would go immediately to Family Court and the juvenile justice system. Since 2004, the alleged offender has been diverted. There is still an appearance in Family Court, but then the student is referred to SoDP to create a rehabilitation plan.
Officials with the program provide case management and guidance, with the goal that this will be the juvenile’s first and last interaction with the criminal justice system. SoDP envisions that program participants will complete the requirements, stay in school, and graduate.
Creating the SoDP Plan: The conditions of some probation programs are regulated by law, but there is considerable flexibility for officials when preparing the SoDP plan. They will create an agreement that incorporates trackable, measurable results, so they can evaluate progress and the student’s move away from criminal tendencies. The program will typically take place over a period of several months, during which the juvenile will be required to comply with rules and meet certain goals.
Outcomes with SoDP: Similar to other diversion programs, the end result when a juvenile completes the custom-tailored SoDP plan is a dismissal of the charges. Prosecution of the student in Family Court ceases, though the matter is still on the record. SoDP officials will immediately move to have the case expunged from the minor’s history.
If the juvenile fails to complete the terms of the SoDP plan, the case returns to Family Court. He or she may be sentenced under the applicable laws if found delinquent of the charges.
Contact a Delaware Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorney to Review Options
To learn more about the SoDP for resolving charges in a juvenile case, please contact Attorney Michael W. Modica. Individuals in New Castle County and throughout Delaware can call 302.600.1262 or go online to set up a consultation. After reviewing your situation, we can offer advice on how to proceed.