Youth Diversion Program (YDP)

What happens if a child is accused of committing a delinquent act?

A delinquent act is a violation of the law that would constitute a felony or misdemeanor if the same act was committed by an adult. Instead of going to adult court to face the criminal charge, juveniles go to juvenile court.

If the child has no prior record, the arresting officer might decide to refer the case to the Youth Diversion Program (YDP) of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. The officer then released the child to the parents with a written notice that the child has been referred for a suspected law violation to the Youth Diversion Program (YDP) of the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.

The parents are then instructed to contact the YDP within seven (7) days for further instruction. An individual determination will be made as to whether the child is eligible to participate in the program. Criminal charges may or may not be filed against the child, depending on whether the child is eligible for diversion.

If the child is not eligible, then a few weeks later the Youth Services Supervisor at the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office might send a letter that although the YDP provided the referral, the child does not meet the qualification for diversion.

Several reasons exist for the case not qualifying for the PCSO’s Youth Diversion Program. The most common reason is because of the nature of the charges. For example, first and second-degree felony cases are not eligible. Any objection by the alleged victim might also mean that the case doesn’t qualify.

Cases that don’t qualify for diversion are referred to the State Attorney’s Office to determine if a petition will be filed in juvenile court. If the petition is filed in juvenile court, then the parents will be sent a copy of the petition and a notice to appear for arraignment at the courthouse in New Port Richey or Dade City.

Attorney for Youth Diversion Program (YDP) in Pasco County, FL

If you received a notice that the case is not eligible for PCSO’s Youth Diversion Program or want to contest the accusation on the merits, then contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney in New Port Richey, FL, at Sammis Law Firm.

Our juvenile defense attorneys can contact the State Attorney’s Office in Pasco County, FL, to explain why the prosecutor should not file a petition. Reasons the prosecutor might decide not to file a petition include:

  • the child is actually innocent of the crime;
  • insufficient evidence exists to show that the crime occurred;
  • the child was misidentified or has an alibi; or
  • the case does not merit prosecution.

If a police officer or deputy with the Pasco Sheriff’s Office referred your child’s case to the Youth Diversion Program (YDP), but the case is not eligible for YDP, then contact us. We can contact the State Attorney’s Office on your child’s behalf.

If a petition is filed, then a judge is assigned to the case. The clerk’s office will set several court dates including the arraignment and dispositions.

The judge assigned to juvenile delinquency cases in East Pasco at the courthouse in Dade City, FL, is the Honorable Linda H. Babb. In West Pasco at the courthouse in New Port Richey, FL, the Honorable Philippe Matthey presides over all juvenile delinquency cases.

Even if the case doesn’t qualify for the youth diversion program, the case might apply for other types of post-petition diversion programs. In other cases, the prosecutor might be willing to dismiss the case if the child completes certain sanctions on a voluntary basis.

An experienced juvenile defense attorney can help you decide the best course of action. Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Friday, November 13, 2020.