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What is diversion and what is informal adjustment in the juvenile justice system?

Meridian, ID |

What is the difference between diversion and informal adjustment? Are they the same thing?

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Attorney answers 3


Generally speaking, an informal adjustment is when a juvenile is placed on informal probation and is required to perform community service or other activities. The juvenile may also be required to refrain from certain activities. If the terms and conditions of the informal probation are successfully completed, the case may be dismissed.

A diversion program is a voluntary alternative to the formal court process and is usually available to first time offenders who meet certain criteria. Through the diversion program, participants in diversion programs may receive treatment, counseling, and support to overcome addictions or certain behaviors.

The above communication is for general informational purposes only. It does NOT constitute legal advice and SHOULD NOT be used or relied upon as such. Moreover, the above communication does not create an attorney-client relationship between Oleson Law and/or Attorney Christina Oleson and any other person or entity. Legal representation by Oleson Law and/or Attorney Christina Oleson is available, but shall be set forth specifically in a separate written fee agreement signed by the parties.


The essential difference between informal adjustment and diversion is usually the level of court involvment; both generally apply to first time offenders and juveniles with a short history of relatively minor offenses. When a case is informally adjusted, the juvenile is required to keep the peace and be of good behavior, as well as comply with any number of thtings including counselling and community service,. The juvenile's progress is usually monitored by court employee or judicial support staff. When a child is sent to diversion, he or she is literally "diverted" away from court involvement; the child is given an opportunity to show he/she can maintain good behavior and engage in various social services (if offere) without the formal filing of a petition with the court, and without the court invoking jurisdiction over the child.

Exception: if you are in Rhode Island and the issue is one of truancy, there is a truancy court run by the RI Family court which is overseen by Family Court Magistrates. It's now been dubbed a "Truancy diversion program" despite the fact that kids are required to appear before judicial officers empowered to issue orders. if it is a truancy issue, my best advice is to hire a qualified juvenile defense attorney to represent you.

The answer above should not be considered to be legal advice; however, please feel free to contact me if you are seeking to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you sort this matter out.


Jennifer is right. An informal adjustment is one where the prosecutor works directly with the probation department to adjust a punishment. This can include a handful of things, such as community service, a simple reprimand, restitution, supervision by probation etc. Informal adjustment is for juveniles.

Diversion does not require you to be a minor. In diversion, a person is placed on a period of unsupervised probation, and the charge is dismissed. It is effectively like a withheld judgment with a shorter unsupervised period and is used primarily in minor drug and alcohol cases.

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