Director Levon Hupfer
12200 N Pecos Street, Suite 300
Westminster, Colorado 80234
Fax: (303) 453-8558
The District Attorney’s Diversion Program is a counseling alternative to the prosecution of formal charges in District Court for the offender charged with a non-violent offense. Our program is highly successful. More than 90 percent of our adult and juvenile clients do not reoffend if they successfully complete the program.
The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is one of only three jurisdictions in the state to offer a diversion program not only for juveniles, but for adults. The juvenile diversion program was established in Adams County in 1977 and the adult program was established a year later. In both programs, the goal of the Diversion Program is to reduce recidivism.
The Diversion program offers first-time non-violent criminal offenders the opportunity to learn social skills, repay their debts to victims and the community and to have their criminal case dismissed, and their record sealed and/or expunged if they successfully complete the program. At any given time, about 175 clients are participating in the Diversion Program for the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Our Diversion program also is unique and successful because, unlike many other jurisdictions, we have a pre-filing program. Most of our Diversion clients are referred before cases are filed so that a juvenile or adult defendant never has to appear in court and the defendant’s record never contains the alleged incident. In rare instances where a referral is made after the filing of criminal charges, the case is dismissed and the defendant’s record is sealed upon successful completion of the Diversion program.
Diversion works with first-time juvenile and adult non-violent offenders by assessing each individual’s risks and needs, determining what areas must be changed and holding them accountable through supervision and counseling with a goal of repaying victims and preventing future crime. Our philosophy is that early intervention and consequences not only provide justice for the community but minimize recidivism as well. This, in turn, reduces the cost of prosecution and incarceration, while protecting the community.
Processing juvenile first-time offenders through the juvenile justice system may do more harm than good because it inadvertently stigmatizes and ostracizes them for having committed relatively minor acts that may be more appropriately handled outside the formal justice system. Studies show that labeling a youth as a delinquent or juvenile offender can affect the way in which a youth comes to define himself or herself and negatively influences future behavior.
As part of our commitment to keep youth out of the juvenile justice system, the District Attorney’s Office began a pilot project in 2014 with the Thornton Police Department and Municipal Court to use our Diversion Program for selected youth. The goal is to provide more resources to youth who have committed a municipal offense, change behavior and reduce recidivism.
To be eligible for the Diversion Program, clients must admit their wrongdoing, have no other pending cases and cannot have been previously accepted into the Diversion Program.
Our clients are held accountable for their actions and the consequences of what they have done. They must fulfill rigorous requirements to resolve their cases successfully. The requirements of the Diversion Program often are more extensive and demanding than those placed on a defendant whose case is prosecuted in a formal court filing. Diversion caseloads are lower than probation caseloads, and many times we can more effectively hold the individual accountable for his or her actions by spending more time on managing the case and working with the individual.
Prosecutors refer juveniles and adults in appropriate cases to the Diversion Program for evaluation. Each client undergoes a risk and needs assessment. Once a client is admitted into the program, a client manager is assigned to supervise the case for the duration of the Diversion contract. The client manager sets the terms of the contract which must be completed and the client signs this contract, agreeing to fulfill all the requirements specified for their case. Typically, sessions with Diversion client managers are held three times per month.
If the Diversion contract is successfully completed, the criminal case is either dismissed or never filed in the first place. The client also may apply to the court to have the records of the incident sealed following successful completion of the Diversion Program.
The client remains in the program based upon their progress and compliance with the contract at home and in school or employment. To be successfully discharged from Diversion, a client must comply with and complete all items contained in their contract. When a client does not comply, the case is returned to the District Attorney’s Office for filing of charges. Any commission of a subsequent offense by the client may result in dismissal form the program and filing of both the original offense and the subsequent offense.
Services offered by Diversion include:
- Individual, couples, family and group counseling
- Skills and education groups
- Education support, tutoring or GED testing
- Intensive truancy intervention and case management
- Employment counseling and assistance
- Substance use and mental health screening and assessment
- Substance abuse counseling
- Financial restitution collection
- Financial skills classes
- Victim-offender mediation
- Community service
- Community restorative justice
- Diagnostic testing referrals
- Referrals to outside agencies when appropriate
Every contract consists of five core elements:
- Regular diversion meetings
All clients must attend all scheduled meeting on time and maintain good and consistent communication with their Diversion counselor. Cancellations of evaluations or assessments without proper notice may be assessed $50.
- Education and Employment goals
Clients must be employed part time or successfully participate in a full-time education program. Our office is the only Diversion Program in the state to offer GED testing.
- Behavior expectations
Clients must obey all city, municipal, and state ordinances and laws as well as all rules at home, on the job and at school.
- Substance use monitoring and treatment
We have a zero tolerance for illegal use of drugs. This includes all illegal drugs, improperly used prescription drugs and otherwise legal use of marijuana by adults and those with medical marijuana cards. Diversion is not an option for those who choose to use marijuana or any illegal substance or misuse prescription medication or alcohol. If a client struggles with any substance misuse or abuse, they must get help from a licensed or certified addiction counselor and follow a treatment plan to remain in the program.
- Community restorative justice
This may include restitution and community service. All Diversion clients must complete 40 hours of community service with an approved non-profit human service organization in the community.
In 2017, a total of $56,838 in restitution was paid to victims of crimes by adult diversion clients, and $5,130 in restitution was paid by juvenile diversion clients. Adult diversion clients performed 2,090 hours of community service to local non-profit organizations. Juvenile diversion clients performed 2,128 hours of community service.
The office also employs “Community Circles” to bring together the community, victims and clients to be heard and implement restorative justice contracts for the clients. Our program is modeled after the Community Justice Partnership program developed and used in Longmont.
Diversion works. Our success rate for juveniles in the program from 2016 to January 2019 is 96.6 percent. For adults the success rate is 90.9 percent. percent.
For juvenile clients who were successfully discharged in 2015, 91.1 percent have not re-offended three years after completing the program. For adults, the success rate is 90.9 percent for clients who were successfully discharged from the program in 2015.