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Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Washington has two purpose clauses within the Juvenile Courts and Juvenile Offenders title: one for Juvenile Offenders-Consolidated Juvenile Service Programs (1983), and the other, Short title--Intent--Purpose [of the Juvenile Justice Act] (2016).  The first mentions the intention to increase protection afforded citizens of the state, community planning for services and supervision, and reducing reliance on state-operated correctional institutions, which is consistent with juvenile justice system accountability of the (later-established) BARJ model.  The second retains parens patriae language and has due process elements, but also aligns with BARJ.  It includes holding the juvenile accountable for criminal behavior, provides for treatment and punishment, restitution to victims of crime, and establishing limits of court, institution and community services.  WA added “providing for rehabilitation and reintegration of juvenile offenders” to the clause in 2016.

WA ST §13-06-010; §13.40.010

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor.

In Washington, complaints received by the court are referred to the prosecutor (DA) who determines legal sufficiency and makes the decision whether to file an "information” for juvenile crimes or divert the case, though many scenarios are proscribed in statute. Complaints can be retained for up to one year when not legally sufficient. DA’s may decline reviewing non-felonious complaints, which will then be screened by a juvenile court probation counselor (JPO). Petitions must be filed when the youth had prior commitments to the department, 3 prior diversion agreements, or when the current complaint relates to certain class A, B, or C felonious acts; other felonious acts with certain priors (any felonious or 2 prior gross or regular misdemeanors); or when the complaint includes a ‘special allegation’ involving firearms (as an offender or accomplice).

Once the screening DA or JPO (for non-felonious matters declined by the DA) determines probable cause, the screener can defer prosecution and divert cases by referring juveniles to mediation, victim offender reconciliation programs, youth court, or to court-designated Diversion Units. First time misdemeanor, gross misdemeanors or violations as well as first-time prostitution/prostitution-loitering allegations must be diverted. Statute proscribes some scenarios and requires procedural court rules for others. Diversion Unit staff may provide counsel and release, refuse the diversion referral and initiate court action, or enter into a diversion agreement in lieu of prosecution with the juvenile, which becomes part of the youth’s criminal record. Agreement terms initially last up to 6 months and can be extended up to 12 months. Conditions can include: youth court (180 days), time-limited community restitution, victim restitution, restrictions on location during certain times (home, school, work), restricting contact with victims/witnesses, counseling, educational and informational sessions, mental health or chemical dependency treatment. If the juvenile violates the agreement, the JPO must initiate court action and refer the case to the DA for action.

Once a petition is filed, judges can order diversion and defer dispositions.

Statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.

In Washington, court diversions are limited to 6 months, and most conditions (other than youth court) can be extended 6 more months. 

Courtroom shackling, 2015

Restricted by judiciary

Washington’s Juvenile Court Rule 1.6 (eff. 9/1/14) states that juveniles shall not be brought before the court wearing any (mechanical or electronic) restraints except when ordered by the court during or prior to the hearing. Findings are required that:

  1. The use of restraints is necessary (due to one: present behavior, current threat to self/others in the courtroom, recent disruptive, potentially harmful/risky courtroom behavior, or present behavior presents a flight risk from the courtroom AND
  2. There are no less restrictive alternatives.

The court shall permit any party to be heard regarding necessity of restraints before or after the order is issued.

Competency, 2015

Washington’s Juvenile Court Rules state that (adult) criminal rules apply to juvenile offense proceedings when not otherwise inconsistent. Criminal rules do not expressly mention Dusky standard elements for competency, but are generally in alignment, as rules assume judicial compliance with statute. A chapter of statutory procedures for the “Criminally Insane” comports more expressly with the Dusky standard for incompetency, and specifies many related procedures.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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