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Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

West Virginia's purpose clause for its Child Protective Services Act (2015) mentions that the purpose of the chapter is to provide a system of coordinated child welfare and rehabilitative juvenile justice services. The system shall establish programs that are community-based and family focused consistent with the needs and potentials of the child and family to protect the welfare of the general public.  It recognizes the fundamental rights of children and parents, which alludes to elements of the due process era. The purpose and intent clause of the Juvenile Offender and Rehabilitative Act mentions a balanced and comprehensive state program for juveniles; and the responsibilities section for the Department of Health and Human Resources and the Division of Juvenile Services (DJS) (2015) to collaborate and provide individualized community-based alternatives to detention and corrections placements is reminiscent of BARJ's system accountability.  Although particular data, research, and fairness elements are not specified, since 50% of DJS community services funding must be allocated for implementation of evidence-based practices by 1-1-17, the section's mandate indicates a shift that aligns with the Developmental Approach.

WV ST §49-1-105; § 49-2-1001; § 49-2-1002

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer, divided by offense.

In West Virginia, jurisdictions can establish alternative programs and procedures to divert juveniles from court involvement or further involvement including: victim-centered restorative justice, teen court, drug court or sexting education programs, and must establish truancy diversion programs. When law enforcement takes custody and detains a juvenile, a detention hearing shall be held by the next day (as when the child is delivered to a sheriff or detention facility), or the officer will contact the Department of Health and Human Resources for non-secure or staff-secure placement of status offenders or those whose parents cannot be located for release, etc.. In lieu of placing the juvenile in detention facility, the court may place the juvenile in the temporary legal and/or physical custody of the department for up to 30 days (non-secure placement) or, if a jury trial is demanded, no longer than the next regular term of the court.

Otherwise, when the court receives a complaint alleging a juvenile is a status offender or juvenile delinquent , the court may refer the matter to a state caseworker, probation officer, or truancy diversion specialist (JPO) for preliminary inquiry to determine whether the matter can be resolved without filing a petition with the court. Prosecutors (DA’s) must refer truancy and other status offenses to JPO for informal (non-judicial) court handling.

DA’s can file petitions for judicial involvement related to truancy and other status offenses when the juvenile has a prior adjudication for a status or delinquent offense or if there is believed to be a significant and likely risk of harm to the juvenile, family member, or the public. For nonviolent misdemeanor-level allegations, the DA has discretion to refer to JPO, who can handle the matter informally by developing a written diversion agreement and monitor compliance. The juvenile and parent must agree to terms and conditions, which can include: community work service, school attendance, referrals to community services (for the juvenile and/or parent) and any other efforts deemed beneficial. Upon successful completion, a petition is not filed and no further action can be taken. When the child is not compliant or the plan is unsuccessful, the monitor must convene a prepetition review team meeting within 14 days for “informal resolution” (unless the noncompliance is a new allegation). The team includes a state caseworker who could make referrals, a service provider, a school superintendent or designee, or any other person, agency representative, member of the juvenile's family, or a custodian or guardian who may assist in providing individual recommendations on community services for the juvenile and his or her family. The team can recommend a modified diversion agreement, filing a delinquency petition, or to open a child abuse investigation. Before a petition is filed, the court, department or other [law enforcement] official may also refer a juvenile alleged to have committed a status offense or delinquent act to a department counselor, professional or community-based counselor, or truancy program at the parent/s request. If the juvenile still does not respond, the department may notify the juvenile of a hearing where the court/referee may direct the juvenile (and parent/s) to participate in a course of noncustodial counseling or community services for up to 6 months, which can be extended an additional 6 months with court approval.

Once a petition is filed for a status offense or nonviolent misdemeanor, prior to adjudication, the court or DA may divert the juvenile to a restorative justice (victim-offender) program and other sanctions (restitution, services, etc. ) may be implemented. Upon successful completion, the petition will be dismissed.

Post-petition court diversion time limit/s exist.

In West Virginia, some court diversions can occur without hearings 'at the parent's request' and no time limits are specified in statute.  A juvenile who does not respond may be ordered to participate by a court/referee for 6 months and extended an additional 6 months with court approval. 

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

West Virginia Rules of Juvenile Procedure require that forensic evaluations are ordered in “a similar manner and in accordance with” procedures described in particular sections of the “Mentally Ill Persons” code of statutes to adjudicate juvenile competency. The sections align with the Dusky standard when considered broadly.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015

Does not register

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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