The focus of the juvenile justice system in Florida is treatment and rehabilitation. While punishment is one factor to consider, it is not the purpose of the juvenile system. Instead, the purpose is to help adolescents going down the wrong path and prevent future unlawful or inappropriate behavior. One way this is accomplished is through the Juvenile Diversion Alternate Program (JDAP). Through this program, eligible adolescents and their families receive the services they need to grow and avoid becoming repeat offenders.
What is JDAP?
JDAP is an intensive counseling program. It focuses on giving your child the skills they need to avoid re-offending.
Your child’s needs are assessed by a case worker, and then your child and family are connected with appropriate services in your area. JDAP programs typically last for two to four months. Release from the program occurs when your son or daughter has successfully met every action detailed in their personal program plan.
Eligibility for JDAP
Not every adolescent in the juvenile justice system can utilize a juvenile diversion program. Your son or daughter must be referred to the JDAP by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), and/or have their entrance into the program approved by the State Attorney’s Office (SAO).
The basic eligibility criteria includes:
- Adolescents 17 years or younger
- Any misdemeanor offense
- Any misdemeanor offense and a prior adjudication
- Second-time misdemeanor offense with a prior adjudication
- Violent, first-degree misdemeanor offense
- First-time, third-degree felony offense
JDAP is typically not for repeat violent offenders. If your child is facing a first-time charge or has only been charged with misdemeanors in the past, call an attorney with experience in juvenile diversion programs immediately.
Services Provided Through JDAP
A professional will determine your child’s needs and how best to meet those needs. Depending on the circumstances, your child may receive:
- Mental health services
- Individual, group, or family counseling
- Substance abuse prevention counseling
- Substance abuse treatment
- Anger management education
- Educational training
- Vocation training
- Scheduling and monitoring of compliance with court-ordered sanctions
Conditions of JDAP
While JDAP focuses on your child’s psychological and practical needs for success, it is also a response to inappropriate or criminal conduct. During the program, your child will be monitored by a case worker. Your adolescent must meet face to face with their case worker on a monthly basis.
Your child may have to participate in some punitive measures, such as completing community service, adhering to a curfew, and paying restitution to the victims of their behavior. If your adolescent’s conduct involved alcohol or drugs, they may need to submit to random drug testing. Also, your child must not commit any crimes or delinquent behavior during the program.
If your child fails to meet with the case worker when required to or fails to stick to any other condition of the program, then there will be consequences. Your child’s place in JDAP is not guaranteed. If they prove they are not willing to abide by the program and are unsuccessful in completing their requirements, the juvenile probation officer and State Attorney’s Office must be notified.
How Long the Juvenile Diversion Alternate Program Lasts
The length of your child’s program depends on the circumstances. JDAP usually lasts between two and four months. If your son or daughter does not have any moderate-to-high risk factors, a case manager will plan for a 60-day program. If your son or daughter has one or more moderate-high or high-risk factors, then their case worker will plan a program between 90 and 120 days.
Your child’s program is finished when they successfully complete all of the individual requirements laid out in their case plan. If your child does not complete all of the conditions within four months, then the case worker may seek an extension for the program.
JDAP May Not Be Right for Your Child
Diversion programs can be extremely helpful for your child and family. They can offer the help your son or daughter needs to turn their life around. They also offer your child a way to avoid a conviction if they did commit a delinquent act or offense.
However, a diversion program is not always the answer. If your child has been falsely accused of a crime, a diversion program could be the wrong move. Going into a diversion program would require your child to admit wrongdoing instead of enabling them to prove their innocence. This could have serious ramifications for them in the future, particularly if they wish to go to college and obtain a professional license.
If this is the case for your child, contact an attorney right away to determine the next best steps.
Let Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Help
If your son or daughter is in trouble with the law, the best thing you can do is call a lawyer. Like an adult, your adolescent child has the right to an attorney throughout the court process. As an experienced juvenile defense attorney, Erika Valcarcel will protect your child throughout their case and fight for the best possible outcome, which may be a diversion program.