JD Diversion/Probation and PINS

     A juvenile delinquent is defined under Article 3 of the Family Court Act as any person at least 12 years old and less than 18 years old having committed an act that would constitute a crime if committed by an adult. It may also include a person over 16 years old and less than 18 years old, having committed an act that would constitute a violation where such violation is alleged to have occurred in the same transaction or occurrence of the alleged crime. It may also include a person over the age of 7 years but less than the age of 12 years for several major crimes such as criminal negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, murder and aggravated murder. Most of the juvenile delinquency cases will have adjustment services attempted, or they can be petitioned through the County Attorneys Office into court and be heard in Family Court if it progresses that far into the system. However, if a youth the age of 16 years old but under 18 years old commits a felony offense, then they may be considered an Adolescent Offender (AO) and may need to appear in a specialized Youth Part of the County Court to have their case heard. If that offense does not include a violent offense, the use of a weapon with serious physical injury or a sex offense, then the AO case may be removed from the Youth Part and transferred to the Family Court to be heard in that venue. 

     When our JD officer receives a JD ticket from a police officer for a criminal offense, they will set up an interview with the youth and their parents or guardian to review the circumstances and case details to determine how the case will proceed. The officer has the option to divert a JD case from going forward to family court and to try and change the respondent’s behavior through voluntary adjustment services by developing and implementing a JD adjustment case plan. The voluntary case plan is an agreement made by the youth and parents or legal guardian to follow agreed upon rules to attend required services and influence positive behavior changes. Juvenile Delinquency adjustment programs can run from 90 days up to 150 days by legislation outside of the court system. Case plans can include office visits, home visits, substance abuse treatment, attending school, obeying parents/guardian, a youth court hearing and sentence, family counseling or other treatment if needed. If the case is not appropriate for adjustment services, or the youth refuses those services, or adjustment is tried and fails to change the youth’s behavior, then the officer can refer the case to be petitioned into Family Court through the County Attorney’s Office. If it moves forward in the Family Court system, then it will be heard and reviewed by a Family Court Judge for a final decision and disposition. The judge can then place the youth on court ordered probation supervision services with specific probation terms to further the attempt of influencing law-abiding behavior. The court can order other options if applicable including a dismissal, a form of conditional discharge with terms, a detention stay, or even long-term placement in a juvenile facility if appropriate. All of these proceedings have the same intentions of positive behavioral change in mind, all while attempting to provide and enhance community safety. 

     Persons In Need of Supervision is defined under Family Court Act Article 7 and is defined as a person under the age of 18 who does not attend school in accordance with provisions of the education law, who is ungovernable or habitually disobedient beyond lawful control of a parent or other person legally responsible for their care or lawful authority. A PINS youth is not necessarily breaking any laws or committing a criminal offense, they are simply not following rules that have been put in place by a position or power of authority entitled to do so, such as a parent or school administrator. New York State legislation mandates that all PINS referral cases need to attempt a PINS Diversion Program before going to family court. The PINS Diversion program established in Schuyler County is called Teams Helping Resiliency Emerge and Diversion Services (THREADS) and is run through the Department of Social Services but contracted out for supervision services with a caseworker. 

     Teams Helping Resiliency Emerge and Diversion Services (THREADS) provides preventive services to families residing in Schuyler County where a youth’s behavior, often identified as PINS behaviors, and/or the family’s circumstances could lead to interventions within the child welfare or juvenile justice systems. THREADS staff works with the family to support them in achieving their safety and well-being goals by developing an individualized Family Assessment Service Plan (FASP). THREADS utilizes strength-based, evidence supported assessments and interventions to reduce problem behaviors in children by providing youth and caretakers with tools to strengthen their relationships and manage behaviors. THREADS offers services through casework counseling, parent support, and groups providing trauma-informed skill-building opportunities. THREADS referrals can be made by the parents/caretakers with whom the youth resides, school officials or counselors, or other community service providers. To make a referral or explore if THREADS is right for you, please call 607-535-2710. 

     PINS adjustment services through THREADS has no timeline and can run until the youth turns 18 years old. If PINS diversion fails to influence acceptable behavior, then the youth can be referred into the Family Court through a petition with the County Attorney’s Office to see a judge for case review and a final disposition, similar to a JD Case. The judge would review the case and make a ruling on what to do with the youth to again try and influence positive behavioral change. 

     Once referred to Family Court, both a JD case and a PINS case can be ordered onto probation supervision for one year, with a one-year extension if needed for a maximum of two years of supervision. The probation department would meet with the respondent and parents/legal guardians to develop a case plan according to the terms of probation as outlined by the court. If the youth did not comply with the court orders and their behavior still did not improve, then probation could file a violation of probation sending the youth back to family court for a possible violation hearing. If found in violation, then a new disposition and outcome would have to be determined by the judge. Final dispositions can include continuing probation with modified terms, a dismissal, a form of conditional discharge with terms, a detention stay, or even long-term placement in a juvenile facility if appropriate. As similar in all other cases, the focus would be on enforcing positive behavioral change with community safety in mind.