Court Diversion is a restorative alternative to the State’s court system. The program is available for both youth charged by the State’s Attorney with a juvenile delinquency or adults charged with a crime.
After police issue a citation for violating the law, the State’s Attorney decides whether to offer the person a referral out of the court system to our independent, community-based Court Diversion program. A person referred to Court Diversion chooses either to accept the offer or to continue with the court process. In making this decision, a person must consider:
Am I willing to accept responsibility for my choices and actions that led to the charge?
The Court Diversion program is meant for people willing to be accountable for their actions.
Am I willing to take steps to repair harm I may have caused to people, property, relationships and/or the community?
Court Diversion includes the needs of harmed parties in the restorative process, which may include paying back restitution for damages to property. People impacted are given the opportunity to share their experience of the incident, and their needs are reflected in the contract.
Am I willing to reflect on underlying issues that may have contributed to my actions, and take steps to address those issues?
Sometimes past trauma or issues with mental health or substance misuse contribute to choices that led to the criminal action. In those circumstances, steps to address those underlying factors may be a part of the contract.
Participants who choose Diversion are assigned a case manager to support them through the program. The participant meets with a panel of community volunteers to create a contract designed to repair the harm caused by their actions and to address the underlying factors in their life that contributed to the charge.
When the participant successfully completes their contract, the State’s Attorney dismisses the charge, and the participant avoids a permanent criminal record. If an individual fails to complete their contract, the case is returned to the State’s Attorney for prosecution.
The program fee ranges from $100 to $300. Payments plans, sliding scale and fee waivers are available. Ability to pay is never a barrier to participation in Court Diversion.
To learn more, visit the Vermont Association of Court Diversion Programs.