Diversion Opportunities and Probation Services/Programs
Given its goal of rehabilitating children, most Juvenile Courts provide diversion opportunities for first-time offenders in an effort to preserve their records and teach them a lesson without graver consequences.
Under the Texas Family Code, Deferred Prosecution is one such diversionary program. DPU, as it is called in Travis County, is sometimes offered to first-time misdemeanor offenders (in a some situations, we also have been successful at negotiating DPU on felony offenses by getting the prosecutor to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor and then send the case to DPU).
DPU provides basic supervision by a division of the Juvenile Probation Department, and is a period of probation (up to six months) pre-adjudication. At the outset of the DPU period, the child and his parents sign a contract with the Probation Department laying out the conditions of DPU. If the child completes the required conditions (often simply a number of hours of community service and no further arrests), the case is dismissed at a review hearing at the end of the DPU period and nothing except an arrest remains on the child’s record. If the child has not yet completed the conditions at the end of the DPU period, the court may extend the DPU period or allow the State to go ahead and prosecute the child as if he had never participated in DPU.
In Travis County and other counties, there are also community-based diversionary programs that children are referred to prior to any formal court involvement.
When a child is placed is on probation, the Juvenile Court orders the child and parents to follow certain conditions. In general, children are required to follow all laws, obey their parents, attend school, and meet at regular intervals with the probation officer. They may be given a curfew; depending on their age, they may be required to find a job. In most cases they will be ordered to complete a certain number of community service hours; where there was monetary damage, they may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim. They must remain alcohol and drug free and stay away from negative influences and peers. There may be stayaway orders from specific persons or places. They may be required to participate in particular treatment programs on either an inpatient or outpatient basis.