Youth Deflection Program (YDP)

The purpose of the Youth Deflection Program is to reduce the harm of court involvement for Orange County youth who commit low level, non-violent offenses and who, in the discretion of law enforcement, could be better served with community interventions than in the court system.

For most youth that commit minor offenses, law enforcement interaction is the doorway to the juvenile justice system. Once a juvenile is apprehended for a criminal violation, it is the officer who first determines if the juvenile will be referred into the criminal legal system or will be diverted. Research shows deflection and diversion is more effective in reducing recidivism than conventional judicial interventions. 

The youth deflection program begins when a law enforcement officer makes a YDP referral to CJRD’s Youth Behavioral Health Liaison instead of issuing a juvenile petition or making an arrest where probable cause exists. The Youth Behavioral Health Liaison will act as the YDP Coordinator and will work with the youth to create a well-rounded deflection plan that addresses issues like community service hours, mental health and substance use education or treatment, leadership classes, and restorative justice opportunities.  After a period of no more than 90 days, the YDP Coordinator will determine if there has been successful compliance with the deflection plan terms. If there is compliance, no petition will be filed. If there has not been compliance, the YDP Coordinator will notify the Law Enforcement Liaison to discuss the most appropriate action forward.

It is important to note that this program should not be used UNLESS the law enforcement officer would otherwise initiate a formal juvenile delinquency process against the youth.

ELIGIBILITY

  • 17 years old or younger at the time of offense
  • No pending juvenile record
  • Must be a misdemeanor or low-level non-violent felony offense or a youth at present risk for such an offense
  • Final discretion on referral remains with law enforcement officers, the District Attorney’s Office, and school officials
  • Restitution, if required, must be resolved outside the process

Diversion referral form for Law Enforcement
Youth Deflection Program Policy Overview